Terror Behind Bars

<b>Bob Simon</b> Speaks To Palestinian Terrorists

Anyone who thought the U.S. was winning the war on terror got a rude shock when Hamas won an overwhelming victory in Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza.

Hamas is a militant Islamic organization dedicated to the total destruction of Israel. It is responsible for more suicide bombings than all the other Palestinian organizations combined. Hamas leaders say they are struggling against the Israeli occupation.

But what really goes through the mind of a terrorist when he is bombing a café or plotting the murder of someone he never met? We know very little about this.

Accomplished terrorists are hardly ever captured alive — and when they are, they rarely give interviews. But correspondent Bob Simon was given unprecedented access to terrorist leaders in Israel's top security prison. He met men and women who haven't spoken to journalists since their capture. They shared their tales of terror.



The most notorious of all the prisoners held at the Be'er Sheva Prison is Abdullah Barghouti. It's not easy to get to see him because he's being held in indefinite solitary confinement. He's been convicted of being the mastermind behind Hamas' deadliest suicide bombings, responsible for the deaths of 66 people, including five Americans. How does he feel about this death toll?

"I feel bad because the number only 66. This the answer you want to hear it?" Barghouti told Simon.

"I want to hear what you have to say," Simon replied.

"No, this is the answer they want to hear it? Yes, I feel bad, because I want more," Barghouti said.

Barghouti has already killed more Israelis than anyone else. For two years, he sent suicide bombers to places, ordinary places, the names of which no Israeli will ever forget. They include "The Moment Café," the Hebrew University cafeteria and the Sbarro Pizzeria, where seven children were killed.

What is particularly grotesque about Barghouti's story is that he's a university graduate, well-traveled, a music lover. In fact, listen to how he made his first suicide bomb with his most prized possession.

"I get my best piece, the guitar. I have it, I like it, I respect it," he explains. "I open it, make a bomb inside it, close it, send it with the guy. And he make the bomb. And it's done."

Barghouti says he was driven by revenge after Israel killed two Hamas leaders, who were his best friends, in an Apache helicopter attack in Nablus in July 2001.

"After I see that, what do you think me? Sit in the home, in the corner, and cry? No. The God, holy Quran, tell me, 'Who try to destroy you, you should destroy him,' " says Barghouti.

For Barghouti, it's eye for an eye — and then some. "Who he's — kick my eye, I will kick his two eye and poke his lip. Because later I can't see. But I can't — I can walk. But he, he can't see and he can't walk," he says.

Walking through this prison, this fortress in the desert, is an experience one can't prepare oneself for. One of the blocs is home to the most hardened prisoners, all serving multiple life terms. The guards call it the "All-Star bloc." Simon says he knew the names of almost all these men, their names and their deeds. He never thought he'd be standing a few inches from them, having a chat.

  • Daniel Schorn

60 Minutes App

New Look. New Season. The 60 Minutes app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch!

More from 60 Minutes

Comments