Friday, January 20, 2006

Palestinian Woman Confesses to Internet Romance Murder

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Palestinian Woman Confesses to Internet Romance Murder

By Robyn Weisman

A Palestinian woman arrested in January 2001 for luring an Israeli youth to his death has admitted her part in the crime, but claims it was intended to be a kidnapping, not a murder. Amana Mona, the 25-year-old Palestinian woman charged in connection with luring an Israeli teen over the Internet to his death, has admitted her culpability in the crime, Israeli police announced Sunday.

Mona was arrested last January 20th, three days after the victim, 16-year-old Ofir Rahum, was found riddled with bullets outside of the West Bank town of Ramallah. Initially, she denied any connection to the slaying, but after a month of interrogation by Israel's General Security Service, she apparently broke down.

Mona's attorney, Jawad Boulos, told Israeli television that he did not believe her confession was coerced, though he noted that other "pressures," like sleep deprivation, were used to break her down. Boulos also said that Sunday was the first day he had been able to speak with his client since her arrest.

Kidnapping Gone Wrong

According to Israeli news reports, Mona claimed her goal had been only to kidnap the Israeli teenager. She had wanted to protest the murder of Palestinian children, she allegedly said, and hoped such a kidnapping would shock the world community to its senses.

In order to carry out her plan, Mona formed online connections with several Israeli teenagers who had expressed their rage over Palestinian violence. Mona ultimately settled on Rahum, with whom she spoke English. During the preparations for the kidnapping-turned-murder, Mona confided in another Palestinian who told her how to put her plan into action.

Once Mona had transported Rahum to the Palestinian town of Ramallah, a Palestinian believed to be senior activist in Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction "tried to pull [Rahum] out of the car but Ofir refused and [another] of the Palestinians, also a senior activist in Fatah, fired dozens of bullets from his Kalashnikov rifle," a statement released by prime minister Ehud Barak's office said Sunday.

"There was no plan to hurt the deceased," Mona's attorney told Israeli Radio. "What happened [was] out of her control, without her knowledge, and certainly without her consent."

New Terror Methods

Ben Venzke, director of intelligence special projects for Fairfax, Virginia's iDefense and an expert in the cyber aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, told NewsFactor Network that this botched kidnapping is, "as we're seeing with so many things in cyberspace, another component of an action that has evolved in cyberspace."

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