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Missing Egyptian Boy Wants to Join Palestinians - 2002-04-30

Egyptian officials say they are searching for a 13-year-old boy who has been missing since Sunday when he left a note saying he wanted to go to Jerusalem to become a martyr for the Palestinian cause. The parents of the boy say they understand his anger but they desperately want him to come home.

Ammar Hassan Mady is not the first Egyptian boy to want to join the Palestinians. Earlier this month, two brothers in Cairo, ages 11 and 12, left their parents a note saying they were going to help the Palestinians fight the Israeli occupation. A few days later the boys were located at Egypt's border with the Palestinian territories and returned home.

The parents of 13-year-old Ammar say their son, like those two other boys, left a note saying he wanted to go to the Palestinian territories.

In an interview with VOA, Ammar's mother, Waafa Ahmed Abdel Maksoud Kassim, said she believes her son was affected by television accounts of the fighting in the occupied territories.

Mrs. Kassim says Ammar got excited and angry watching the television reports and hearing stories about Palestinian women and children being killed and humiliated. She says he told her he wanted to go and die and become a martyr.

Mrs. Kassim says the night before he disappeared Ammar asked for a photograph of his mother and father.

The next day, Sunday, he left for school in the morning; when he didn't return, his parents searched his room and found the note saying that he was leaving.

Ammar's father, Ahmed Hassan Mady, says he understands why his son would want to do such a thing but says such decisions should not be reached without serious consideration.

"Whatever Ammar has done we are not mad or angry at him," said Mr. Mady, "but the [Israeli-Palestinian] situation needs to be brought under control." He says he accepts that any young man can sacrifice his life for his nation, but "whatever comes to one's mind should not be immediately applied."

Ammar's parents, who live near Alexandria, say other parents should pay close attention to what their children are saying and watching on television.

Mrs. Kassim says she hopes her son hears her voice. She says she wants him "to come home where everyone is waiting for him and everyone is very sad."