Co-founder of Hamas military wing issues startling apology to Palestinians

Muhammad Nazami Nasser sorry for ‘destruction’ caused to his people by his group, which he indicates he now considers ‘the devil’; expresses no regret to Israel

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Muhammad Nazami Nasser (Facebook)
Muhammad Nazami Nasser (Facebook)

A Palestinian terrorist who co-founded Hamas’s notorious military wing in 1991 and was directly involved in the killing of Israeli soldiers, published a startling Facebook post in which he apologized to fellow Palestinians for his activities. He also indicated that he now considers the Islamist terror group, which he did not mention by name, to be “the devil,” sowing hatred and bringing destruction to the Palestinian people. He made no apology for terrorism and violence directed against Israel.

Muhammad Nazami Nasser was one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which has been responsible for years of terrorism against Israel and is headed by terror chief Mohammed Deif. In 1989, Nasser was one of the Hamas team that kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Saadon. Those attacks marked the first time Hamas had kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers.

Nasser was known to be close to Mahmoud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander and weapons importer to Hamas-run Gaza, who was assassinated in Dubai in 2010, in an operation widely attributed to Israel’s Mossad. Mabhouh was also part of the 1989 Hamas squad that kidnapped and killed the Israeli soldiers.

In an emotional, fierce and at times incoherent Facebook post on Wednesday, Nasser apologized for his activities to nearly all of the various factions of the Palestinian people by name, including “Palestinians within and outside [of Palestine],” “the immortal Palestinian president Yasser Arafat,” Fatah, the PFLP, the DFLP and many others. The terror group Islamic Jihad – another militant Islamist group that sometimes cooperates with Hamas – was not included.

Nasser said he was sorry for the “horror of hatred that lived within me toward you [i.e., the political factions],” and for his “relentless work so that you would not have a geographical or political place on the national map.”

“I apologize to you for my biggest dream,” he continued, “that you would all be buried beneath the ground, dead and motionless.”

A poster image of assassinated Hamas weapons importer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Jabalya, northern Gaza Strip, 23 March 2010 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A poster image of assassinated Hamas weapons importer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Jabalya, northern Gaza Strip, 23 March 2010 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

“I ask God to forgive me for this [deception] from the Devil [i.e., Hamas], that this hatred would bring me to the highest height of Paradise. O God, O God, O God I have been deprived of the blessing of diversity… My homeland has been destroyed because I couldn’t comprehend the acceptance of others. And what is worse, I thought I was working with religion.”

Nasser does not name Hamas (or Israel for that matter) in the post, but it seems clear he is referring to the terror group as the “devil” which made him believe he would get to paradise for his work. “I hope you will accept my apology for this, though it may not be helpful after all this destruction and devastation against religion, the homeland and the people,” he added.

Nasser’s apology then takes a poetic turn, in which he talks about how animals and plants in the woods come together to form a beautiful diversity.

The official PA news site Wafa said it had been unable to get in touch with Nasser — who has recently been involved in a Palestinian reconciliation movement and has indicated he may run in municipal elections in October — since his post was published around midday Wednesday.

Nasser’s apology, Wafa wrote on Wednesday, “opened the door for questions among citizens over how dangerous Hamas’s plans and practices might be, that they made a leader of this stature break his silence in such a striking way.”

While Nasser once left the Strip to live in Sudan — because he was being sought by Israel for his crimes — he is known to again be living in the Strip, where Hamas has ruled since ousting Fatah in 2007. He is now part of a political movement called “Wataniyyin” or patriots, comprising former Fatah and PFLP members working for reconciliation among Palestinian factions. In a Facebook post from August 15, Nasser is seen (second from left) with other Wataniyyin activists.

Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.

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