The Jihad Soccer Club

(Newsweek) - Joshua Hammer Today, it's hard to find a trace of the Jihad soccer squad, once considered the best in Hebron. Beginning last fall, six active players and one former member of the squad, including the player-coach, carried out a wave of suicide attacks against Israelis. Last month Israel finally hit the cell hard. An elite Israeli unit killed Abdullah Kawasmeh, the 43-year-old leader of Hamas's military wing in Hebron. According to Israeli intelligence, it was this quiet, veteran militant who recruited and dispatched the Jihad soccer players on their missions. The Jihad team came to life in 1998, with 15 boys and young men from the neighborhood joining a soccer squad. They played against a dozen other mosque teams in Hebron, acquired blue-and-white soccer jerseys, and stenciled each with the logo "Al-Jihad: Prepare For Them." When carrying out operations, the young men dressed in the black garb of yeshiva students.

2003-07-04 00:00:00

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