November 1, 2004: Teenager carries out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv

On November 1, 2004 a PFLP suicide bomber detonated his device in a crowded Tel Aviv market, killing 3 and wounding 30.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – Do terrorist groups plan attacks to say “Hey! We’re not quite dead yet?”

OK, OK, another Monty Python reference. In the brilliant Monty Python and the Holy Grail – it came out in 1975, I was there to view it at a theatre in my hometown of London (ON), and I have only watched a hundred times since! – there are many, many funny lines, some of which I have peppered these blogs with.

For today I want to use “I am not quite dead yet“. This of course occurs in a scene in which John Cleese tries to convince Eric Idle, who is collecting dead bodies, that an old man he wishes to throw on the latter’s cart has indeed gone to meet his maker. After a spirited defence by the old man protesting that he is actually getting better, Idle hits him with a club at Cleese’s urging, killing him and allowing Cleese to toss him among the other corpses.

Longevity may not have been the norm in the Middle Ages but it certainly is in some parts of the world today. The average age of death overall is 72 and some nations are doing better than that. In the UK a typical girl lives to 83: a boy to 79. No need to toss them on the cart!

Some terrorist groups are inordinately long-lasting. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its variants have been around for more than a century: the FARC in Colombia for half that. Not all terrorist organisations are a ‘flash in a pan’ (hmm, maybe a bad metaphor for entities that blow things up!).

And sometimes leaders last forever too. Al Qaeda’s Usama bin Laden headed that group for at least 25 years. And the granddaddy of them all, Yassir Arafat, led the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) from 1969 to 2004! Arafat was not perfect, however, and in 2004 he was in a hospital bed in Paris undergoing tests for a blood ailment when a rival outfit, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) carried out an attack in Tel Aviv.

On this day in 2004

An 18-year old suicide bomber named Amer al-Fah, from the Askar refugee camp near the West Bank town of Nablus, exploded his lethal belt in a crowded market, killing three and wounding 30.

It’s immoral to send someone so young. They should have sent an adult who understands the meaning of his deeds.

Al-Fahr’s mother

The PFLP stated that the attack was evidence that the “resistance is alive”. For his part, Arafat condemned it as well as “killing on both sides“. Oh well, I guess in the end this shows that this particular brand of terrorism is “not dead yet”.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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