Anat Berko is a member of the Knesset from the Likud Party who holds a doctorate in criminology and is a recognized terrorism expert. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had selected her for a Knesset seat in last year’s election, has appointed Berko to head the Knesset’s Subcommittee of Intelligence and Secret Services, which is within the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. She is the first woman to lead the subcommittee, which is the most classified in the government.
Berko has spent her career researching Palestinian suicide bombers and their handlers and interviewing many of them, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the former spiritual and operative leader of Hamas. She was interviewed last week by phone during a trip to New York.
Q.: How do you read the political situation in Israel in which Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog was apparently on the verge of joining the ruling Likud Party when Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu Party joined instead?
A.: When the nuclear agreement with Iran — a state sponsor of terrorism — was announced, Herzog should have at that point joined the government. He didn’t and now when his political situation [in the Labor Party] is so shaky, he has a problem. I think it was his last chance to be the foreign minister and to do something for his nation. The enemy is the enemy and he could have negotiated [to join the government].
In your book, “The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers,” you address the dangers of women and children as terrorists.
They are more dangerous because you cannot trust them and they can move through checkpoints easily. Two days ago in Baghdad, two women suicide bombers blew themselves up and killed at least 68 people. Women and children are being used more and more and nobody is speaking about it.
How are female martyrs viewed by Palestinians?
It can cause damage to the family because sometimes organs from her body are seen and the deputy prime minister of Hamas has said she is then a naked woman. Thus, to conduct a terror attack is a shame. I interviewed Yassin and he said they are not for women — they have enough men.
But we have seen photographs of women suicide bombers that make them out to be heroes.
Actually they will never get the recognition that men do. And men are encouraged to do it. A she- bomber is very effective, but even in paradise there is no equality for male and female bombers. Females do not get 72 virgins. They are told they will get only one, and some women told me their husbands would go to hell.
Did the Palestinian terrorists you interviewed tell you they hate Israelis or Jews?
They speak about Jews and not Israelis. They say they are anti-Zionist and not anti-Jews, but this is the big lie. It is not politically correct [to say Jews]. But their hatred towards Israel is the same — it is anti-Semitism against the only Jewish state.
How do you explain all of the lone-wolf attacks that have occurred since late last year?
It’s a mistake to call them lone-wolf attacks; there are none. If children are raised to hate Jews, if they cannot find Israel on their maps, if they paint their hands red and dance about saying they have the blood of Jews on their hands, these are not lone-wolf attacks.
Just like an addict that must get drugs, they have the same mindset — they hate the West. But in their afterlife, they believe they will live like they do in the West — with alcohol, sex and women. They believe they will see the face of Allah and have good food. A 15-year-old said [in effect] they want to be altruistic in this world and hedonistic in the next world.