'Kind' Jordanian Doctor Turned Suicide Bomber
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Jordan's capital, Amman.
LOURDES GARCIA: The al-Balawi family home in Amman occupies the first floor of a modest apartment block in a middle-class area of the city. This weekend, after footage of his son was broadcast around the world, the bomber's father, Khalil al-Balawi, spoke in halting English of his pain.
KHALIL AL: I am very, very sad when I saw Humam. I am very, very sad.
GARCIA: At a nearby store, a friend of Humam al-Balawi, Abu Unis(ph), says the 32-year-old doctor was a familiar figure in the neighborhood. He treated patients at a Palestinian refugee camp and was known for his good works.
ABU UNIS: (Foreign language spoken)
GARCIA: Analyst Hasan Abul Khania(ph) had been following the writings of Abu-Dujana for some time without knowing his real identity.
HASAN ABUL KHANIA: (Through Translator) He focused on jihad, on establishing an Islamic caliphate. And what was more distinctive, he focused on Gaza and Israel and America's support of Israel.
GARCIA: Balawi is of Palestinian heritage, and according to family members, he wanted to volunteer as a doctor in Gaza. Analyst Hasan Abul-Khania says Balawi is part of the new generation of al-Qaida operatives.
ABUL KHANIA: (Through Translator) The Internet has changed everything. The ones who go on the Internet already have skills. Balawi was a doctor. The Nigerian boy who attempted to blow up a plane was from an educated, wealthy family. The Fort Hood shooter was also educated. And they are being recruited through the Internet. The most important thing is that they are anonymous. They don't have ties to known militants, so it's harder for the intelligence services to find out who they are.
GARCIA: He says secrecy is paramount. Al-Balawi, for example, did not personally meet here in Jordan with other Salafi jihadists, fundamentalists Muslims who call for the establishment of an Islamic mother state.
ABUL KHANIA: (Through Translator) The tactics are being adapted. They are trying to be unpredictable. Now, someone planning an attack could be anyone, your neighbor, even your brother.
GARCIA: The official says the intelligence services here, who have strong ties to the CIA, tried to, quote, "lure him into establishing a relationship with the Americans." The official strongly emphasizes that Jordan did not run the operation. The Jordanian captain that was killed in the attack, the official said, was simply a liaison officer, despite his status as a member of the royal family. Analyst Marwan Shehadeh says Balawi's attack has proven deeply embarrassing for Jordan.
MARWAN SHEHADEH: This is, I mean, a hard blow for the Jordanians, and I think they will reorganize their strategy in dealing with al-Qaida.
GARCIA: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Amman.
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