The London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published an interview with Umm Nidal, the mother of the shahid [martyr] Muhammad Farhat. During the first Intifada, Umm Nidal had hidden 'Imad 'Aql, the commander of Hamas's military wing "Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades," in the family's home for over a year. The following are excerpts from the interview:
Q: "How did the idea of carrying out a Fidaai [martyrdom] operation develop in [your son] Muhammad's soul?"
Umm Nidal: "Jihad is a [religious] commandment imposed upon us. We must instill this idea in our sons' souls, all the time What we see every day - massacres, destruction, bombing [of] homes - strengthened, in the souls of my sons, especially Muhammad, the love of Jihad and martyrdom."
Q:"Did you have a role in the planting of this spirit in Muhammad?"
Umm Nidal: "Allah be praised, I am a Muslim and I believe in Jihad. Jihad is one of the elements of the faith and this is what encouraged me to sacrifice Muhammad in Jihad for the sake of Allah. My son was not destroyed, he is not dead; he is living a happier life than I. Had my thoughts been limited to this world, I would not sacrifice Muhammad.
I am a compassionate mother to my children, and they are compassionate towards me and take care of me. Because I love my son, I encouraged him to die a martyr's death for the sake of Allah Jihad is a religious obligation incumbent upon us, and we must carry it out. I sacrificed Muhammad as part of my obligation."
"This is an easy thing. There is no disagreement [among scholars] on such matters. The happiness in this world is an incomplete happiness; eternal happiness is life in the world to come, through martyrdom. Allah be praised, my son has attained this happiness."
Q:"'Imad 'Aql lived with you, and was killed in your home. Did his personality influence Muhammad?"
Umm Nidal: "Muhammad was seven when the martyr 'Imad 'Aql lived with us at home Muhammad joined the [Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades at age seven. Despite his young age, he was [an] assistant to 'Imad 'Aql, the Al-Qassam commander in the Gaza Strip. While his brothers were absent, he would watch the road, and take messages from 'Aql to the mujahideen. The martyr Muhammad was 'Imad's pupil. Muhammad would listen to 'Imad and watch him plan operations."
"'Imad lived with us for 14 months, and he had a room in our house from which he would plan the operations. The mujahideen would come to him and plan and sketch everything out, and little Muhammad would be with them, thinking and planning. This was the source of Muhammad's love of martyrdom."
"This is the atmosphere in which the love of martyrdom developed in Muhammad's soul. I, as a mother, naturally encouraged the love of Jihad in the soul of Muhammad and in the souls of all my sons, all of whom belong to the Al-Qassam Brigades. My eldest son, Nidal (31), is wanted now by the Israelis. My second son set out on a martyrdom operation, but was discovered, arrested, and sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment. I have another son, [Mu'min Farhat] who is the escort of Sheikh Ahmd Yassin."
"The atmosphere to which Muhammad was exposed was full of faith and love of martyrdom. I maintain that a man's faith does not reach perfection unless it attains self-sacrifice"
Q:"How did Muhammad say goodbye before he carried out the operation?"
Umm Nidal: "Muhammad was willing to carry out any martyrdom operation... He swore to me that the only reason he loved life was Jihad. He would say to me that if his turn for Jihad did not come he would quit the military arm of the movement, take his weapon, and go to the battlefield to fight on his own."
"He tried several times. He would go out to the Al-Muntar road, taking his gun and bombs, but an opportunity did not present itself. He would return with his blood boiling because he hadn't managed to carry out an operation. He would brandish his weapon and tell me: 'Mom, this is my bride.' He loved his gun so much."
"He would tell me, 'I am going out now [to an attack]. I cannot control myself.' I would answer him, 'You will yet have a great opportunity. Be patient, plan well, so that you don't sacrifice yourself in vain. Act with your mind, not your emotions'"
"On the day of the operation, he came to me and told me: 'Now, mother, I am setting out for my operation.' He prepared for the operation two days in advance, when the video was filmed. He asked me to be photographed with him, and during the filming he brandished his gun. I personally asked to make the film so as to remember."
"He set out to carry out the operation, and when he got to the area he spent the night with his friends there. I was in contact with him and I asked him about his morale. He told me he was very happy. Indeed, I saw his face happier than I had ever seen it."
"He set out for his operation with cold nerves, completely calm and confident, as if convinced that the operation would succeed."
"But I worried and feared greatly that the operation would not succeed, and that he would be arrested. I prayed for him when he left the house and asked Allah to make his operation a success and give him martyrdom. When he entered the settlement, his brothers in the military wing [of Hamas] informed me that he had managed to infiltrate it. Then I began to pray to Allah for him."
"I prayed from the depths of my heart that Allah would cause the success of his operation. I asked Allah to give me 10 [Israelis] for Muhammad, and Allah granted my request and Muhammad made his dream come true, killing 10 Israeli settlers and soldiers. Our God honored him even more, in that there were many Israelis wounded."
"When the operation was over, the media broadcast the news. Then Muhammad's brother came to me and informed me of his martyrdom. I began to cry, 'Allah is the greatest,' and prayed and thanked Allah for the success of the operation. I began to utter cries of joy and we declared that we were happy. The young people began to fire into the air out of joy over the success of the operation, as this is what we had hoped for him."
"After the martyrdom [operation], my heart was peaceful about Muhammad. I encouraged all my sons to die a martyr's death, and I wish this even for myself. After all this, I prepared myself to receive the body of my son, the pure shahid, in order to look upon him one last time and accept the well-wishers who [came] to us in large numbers and participated in our joy over Muhammad's martyrdom"
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 5, 2002.