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The Judas Kiss of a Terrorist

The Judas Kiss of a Terrorist Nezar Hindawi was the forerunner of the suicide bombers of 9/11 and Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber. They struck at the principle symbols of American hegemony: its commercial, financial and military supremacy. Their actions were a seismic event whose consequences continue to echo. It exposed the fragility of the United States empire and called into question all the certainties and beliefs which have ensured the triumph of American civilisation in the 20th century. Many feared, with justification, that the actions of those terrorists was only the first step in a series of planned atrocities. But before them came Nezar Hindawi. Today, he remains incarcerated in Britains most secure high-security prison. He may die there before he completes his long sentence. He is serving a 45 year sentence, the longest in British penal history, for trying to blow-up an Israeli El Al Jumbo jet with 355 British passengers on the way to the Holy Land. cont. by Gordon ThomasBut his story is not only how close he came to carrying out what would have been the greatest single atrocity Israel would ever have faced. It is also the strange story of how his probation officer whose report helped to ensure he would be sentenced to those 45 years in jail has become the only woman in his life. Initially Susan Bendhiaoui described Nezar Hindawi as a cold, calculating and merciless PLO terrorist with a fatal attraction for women. But his one-time probation officer who made that calm and considered judgement on Hindawi, is the same woman who makes eight-hour round-trips from her home in Farnborough, England, to brief him on her latest moves to persuade Prime Minister Tony Blair to release Hindawi from jail. Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said Hindawi was one of the most dangerous men to ever enter Britain. Germany wanted him for terrorist offences. They decided to withdraw their claim after the unprecedented length of sentence Hindawi received. He will be 77 when his sentence ends. Even if Nez is the worst man in the world, I believe he is entitled to a chance to redeem himself. To keep him incarcerated for 18 hours a day is inhuman. I know people will say what he tried to do was barbaric. But they dont know the man I know, said Susan, 53, said. Of all the cases she handled in her 15 years dealing with serious offence prisoners, Hindawi is the only one she has remained in contact with. Nobody will probably understand what I see in him. Not for a moment do I condone what he did. It was terrible. But I have seen him change. I like to think part of it is because of the time I have spent with him. I have helped to keep his mind alive. To keep him thinking. The more he does that, the more he changes from being the classic terrorist; the more he becomes a man, Susan said. She spoke exclusively for the first time about what she admitted was a strange relationship with a terrorist trained to kill from an early age. Susan, the daughter of a senior British civil servant, is twice married and now lives alone with her German Shepherd dog and two cats. But, using her experience in the probation service, she has masterminded a campaign to have Hindawi, 48, released. I have written the kind of reports that I hope will go in his favour with the Home Office Parole Board, said Susan. On a more personal level, she has bought Hindawi fashionable casual clothes sweaters, well-cut jeans and expensive trainers. Ive even bought him saucepans so that he can cook his own food in prison, she said. With his 20 a week prison allowance, Hindawi has saved up to buy Susan gifts like a necklace and a calculator for her birthday. I dont overlook his faults. I dont condone for a moment what he tried to do to those people on that airliner. In a way what makes it even harder for me is that I am a Jew. But Nez is also a human being himself. That is why I want to help him. Susan claims that since 9/11, Hindawi has been abused and even beaten in prison. But Nez is smart. He knows how the system works and uses it to avoid problems. He is a very controlled man. A very dangerous man. He has a chilling ability to distance himself. She admitted that her friends are highly critical of my seeing him. But the man I know is no monster, despite what he tried to do. He has sent her poems and passages from the writings of Omar Khayam. Is she sub-consciously in love with him? Does he love her? She laughed and then carefully framed her answer. I couldnt love him. I am intrigued by him, yes. He is a very complex person. Does he love me? No, because he isnt able to love anyone. Those kind of feelings were killed in him when he was trained to be a terrorist. The man who did that training was Abu Nidal. Before Osama bin-Laden, he was known as the grandmaster of global terrorism. It was Nidal who gave Nez the bomb to destroy the El Al plane. He showed Nez how to smuggle it into England. Nez hid the bits and pieces in his fathers house in North London, Susan revealed. Nez was told to be ready to assemble the bomb once he received the signal from Nidal. During his time as a sleeper agent in London, Hindawi lived the good life. He was a regular player at casinos. Used his money to buy girls. It was his lifestyle that brought him to our attention, states a Mossad report, never until now made public. Susan now paints a very different portrait of the man who then only had one mission to kill as many people as possible for his terror paymaster. She sees Hindawi as attentive, clever, politically aware, with a highly alert mind and as human as it is possible to be in the situation he is in. Just as September 11 was a catharsis for the world, so it was a personal turning point for Nez. It finally made him realise that what he had tried to do was a terrible crime, said Susan. Since then Hindawi has spent his hours in his small prison cell listening to a Middle East station on the radio Susan has bought him. In between he has waited for her next visit. Before she was allowed to see him, she was interviewed by MI5. I suppose they wondered when I gave up being his probation officer why I wanted to go on seeing him. I told them: he deserved a chance to make a new life. If I can help him do that, then I have achieved something worthwhile, said Susan. Each visit lasts two and a half hours. They take place in the Whitemoor prisons visiting room. It has a coffee bar and pictures on the walls of an outside world that Hindawi has not seen. He and Susan sit opposite each other. He treats me with full deference. But I sense at times he is possessive. After all I am the only woman in his life, said Susan. When she is ill, he recommends Arab remedies to cure a cold or an stomach upset. But what does she feel about him as a man? I do find him physically attractive. He is handsome, silver-haired and very fit. I suppose thats what made him so attractive to women. He is so charming and polite, said Susan. Susan is not the first woman to fall for Hindawis rakish good manners and flashing smile. Anne-Marie Murphy was a chambermaid at the Hilton Hotel on Londons Park Lane when she met Hindawi at Christmas 1985. Until then life was rotten. It was changing bed sheets and scouring toilet bowls. Then back to my kip of a room in Kilburn, she later recalled. One night she stopped off at an Irish bar in Shepherds Bush. Hindawi was there sent by Abu Nidal to try and make contact with the IRA. Nidal wanted to create an alliance with the Irish terror group. Instead Hindawi met Anne-Marie. To a woman who had never travelled farther than London, he made his life sound like an Arabian Nights fantasy. Anne-Maries Christmas passed in a swirl of long lunches and candlelit dinners in Arab restaurants. The champagne flowed freely. They became lovers. In February, when she found herself pregnant, she told Hindawi. He promised to marry her. Unknown to him, Hindawi was under surveillance by a Mossad agent, Tov Levy, in London, who had identified Hindawi as a close associate of Abu Nidal. Levy also learned about Anne-Maries pregnancy. The hapless chambermaid became a key figure in the plot. Abu Nidal saw her as the means to get a bomb onto an El Al airliner. Hindawi was instructed to tell Anne-Marie that before they married, she must travel to seek his parents consent. It is an Arab tradition no dutiful son can flout, he told her. He said his parents lived in an Arab village in Israel. To a girl educated by nuns, for whom Mass was an important part of her life, her moments hesitation over marrying outside her faith was overcome by another night of passionate love-making in her Kilburn room. Next day Hindawi gave Anne-Marie an El-Al return ticket for a flight on April 17, 1986. On the way to Heathrow he told her he had arranged for her to collect a gift from her parents from a friend who was one of the cleaners who worked at the airport in the departure area beyond Passport Control. Her gullibility in not asking any questions about the gift was the reaction of a woman completely trusting her lover. Tov Levy had trailed the couple to the airport. His Mossad report never made public until now states: Hindawi behaved like a loving, concerned father-to-be. He asked her to make sure to continue to do her breathing exercises during the long flight. He told her she must sit in an aisle seat to avoid leg cramps. Anne-Marie lingered at the entrance to the departure area. She promised to phone him from Tel Aviv. She said would love his parents like her own. He kissed her one last time. It was his kiss of betrayal. His Judas kiss. Once she was into the departure area, Hindawi left the airport his part in the plot over. He boarded a Syrian Arab Airlines bus that was waiting for him. Inside the departure area, Tov Levy watched a man dressed in the blue coverall cleaner approach Anne-Marie and hand her a package. The man disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared. But within moments El Al security staff surrounded Anne-Marie. The package was found to contain three pounds of Semtex. Special branch and MI5 officers who had been waiting with Mossad agent Tov Levy grilled her. They were quickly satisfied that she was an ill-starred woman double-crossed by her lover An innocent dupe, was how Hindawi has explained Anne-Marie to Susan. She knew Nez was a terrorist and maybe she found that exciting. She was never called at his trial because she was completely innocent of the bomb plot, Susan said. On that April day in 1986, events moved swiftly. Hindawi sought and was refused political asylum at the Syrian Embassy in London. He checked into the Londons Visitors Hotel in Notting Hill. He was arrested there. The results were gratifying for both Mossad and MI5 who had worked closely with Tov Levy. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ordered the Syrian ambassador to be expelled and his Embassy closed. After a short Old Bailey trial, Hindawi was jailed for 45 years. Anne-Marie returned to Dublin where she gave birth to a daughter. The man in blue coveralls Hindawis supposed friend had at the last moment been intercepted and his place taken by an El Al security officer. The Mossad report states: The friend became a source for MI5 in return for not being prosecuted. Hindawi was the victim of a classic Mossad sting operation. Anne-Marie continues to live in Ireland raising her teenage daughter, thankful she does not look like her one-time lover. She never speaks of Hindawi. Susan offered her last judgement on Anne-Marie. When I was Nez probation officer, I had access to his file. In there were postcards he had sent to Anne-Marie. There were also other papers that suggested he had a contempt for her. He deceived her. Thats the bottom line. He deceived her. Could Hindawi still be doing the same as Susan? Is his claim to be a reformed terrorist no more than a calculating pretence? I really dont think so. I really dont, said Susan. If I thought for a moment that was the case I would give up trying to help him, she added. After her visits to Hindawi, she will sit at home and draft yet another report to the Home Office urging the Parole Board to recommend an early release for the man she has grown close to. But I am realistic. I think he will do at least another 4 years. At least, Susan said. ends Before the 9/11 Suicide Bombers and Richard Reid – the Shoe Bomber, there was: THE TERRORIST AND HIS STRANGE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ONLY WOMAN IN HIS LIFE by Gordon Thomas

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