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Jordanians and Daqamseh

Mar 13,2017 - Last updated at Mar 13,2017

Ahmed Daqamseh, a former Jordanian corporal who 20 years ago went on a shooting rampage and killed seven Israeli schoolgirls was released last Sunday after completing his term in jail.

I vividly remember his defiant posture in the court. But on Sunday he was a different man.

Now he is in his mid-forties, with patches of grey hair covering his head.

In an interview with Al Jazeera TV, he made clear that Israel was the enemy and he showed no regret.

Jordanians are divided with regard to Daqamseh.

There is widespread conviction that Israeli soldiers killed many innocent Palestinian civilians. Besides, Israel killed a Jordanian judge three years ago.

But there is a deeper sentiment among Islamists, for instance. They try to use Daqamseh’s release as a weapon in their political campaign to embarrass the regime.

One of their spokespersons told Al Jazeera that Daqamseh killed the Israeli schoolgirls in protest against normalisation. To them, Daqamseh was, and still is, a “hero”.

Knowing that he is not liked by the Jordanian establishment, Daqamseh flirted with the Islamic opposition when he said that the only solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is the eradication of Israel.

Explicit in the statements of those who hail Daqamseh is a desire to use his release as if it were a victory of their approach.

Islamists used the opportunity to criticise normalisation with Israel and the gas deal that was reached between Jordan and Israel.

Observers must have noticed that Daqamseh was not articulate. His answers to the questions posed by Al Jazeera indicate that he is a simple man.

Indeed, many Jordanians believe that he suffers from mental issues. Besides, he does not seem aware of the political game and allowed himself to be used by the opposition.

This being said, there are many Jordanians who do not see him as a hero.

Some posts on Facebook refer to him as a “sick criminal” who opted for killing schoolgirls when the Israeli soldiers were within the range of his rifle.

They insist that he is insane.

Daqamseh was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Some even went as far as to say that he should have been kept in jail for fear that Israel may assassinate him.

Personally, I see the incident in a different way. I argue that the whole issue should be kept within the legal context.

A soldier who killed seven schoolgirls for no compelling reason was convicted and that should be it.

I listened to his interview with interest and found him naïve. 

His insistence that Palestine needs all Arabs to work together to eradicate Israel does not represent a plan for anything.

He felt obliged to say those words to create the impression that his action some 20 years ago was meaningful.

He said he does not like politics and all he wants now is to live peacefully with his family. 

Perhaps, the opposition — the Islamists in particular — should leave the man alone. Whether he is a “hero” or a “criminal” is not the issue.

I think that soon Jordanians will move on and forget about him.

But if anything happens to him — let us say an assassination attempt — he will go down in history as a hero and a good example.


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