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Lured by Internet, boy gunned down

By JOSHUA BRILLIANT

JERUSALEM, Feb. 25 -- It was only after her father fell off a roof, and was in hospital in critical condition, that the young Palestinian woman, Amna Mouna, decided to tell her story: How she lured a 16-year-old Israeli boy to the West Bank town of Ramallah, arranged to have him kidnapped, and what happened in his last moments when he struggled and screamed at a man who pointed an AK-47 Kalachnikov assault rifle at him and pulled the trigger.

The Israeli boy, Ophir Rahum, a computer fan who had his own website was shot and killed on Jan. 17.

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Israeli investigators searched through his computer and three days later surrounded the home of Amna Mouna, 24, in Bir Naballah north of Jerusalem. They ordered everybody out of the house, and made off with her.

For about a month she said nothing. Her attorney Jawad Boulous said investigators sometimes questioned her for as long as 28 hours without a break for her. They took turns. She was not allowed to see a lawyer for close to three weeks.

The turning point happened some 10 days ago when her father fell, was fatally injured, and Amna, who felt very close to him, was ready to make a deal: If the Israelis would let her see her father, she would tell them what happened to the boy with whom she had chatted over the Internet.

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She saw her father, who later died, then told General Security Service and police investigators about her Internet chats with several Israelis. One of them was Ophir Rahum, a blue-eyed, black-haired boy with thick eyebrows. According to Ophir's friends, he thought she was an American.

The prime minister's media adviser, who Sunday published the General Security Services' press release, said Amna decided to meet one of the Israelis with whom she had chatted, "in order to abduct him so as to shock Israeli public opinion and thus send a message to Israel and the world against the killing of children and youths in the Intifada. She stated that her intention was merely to abduct, not to kill," the Israeli report said.

Amna's attorney, Jawad Boulous, told UPI she had wanted to kidnap the boy for 48 hours. She said she expected Ophir's mother to appear on the mass media, arouse sympathy for her plight, and Amna planned to have three Palestinian mothers try to arouse world attention "to their children murdered by the Israelis."

Amna picked Ophir of the southern Israeli coastal town of Ashkelon. Ophir, a compute fan, who had his own Hebrew website (http://members.nana.co.il/planet/ofirra/)

She confided with another Palestinian man, and according to her account, they drew up their plan.

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The day of the murder, Ophir skipped school, took a bus to Jerusalem, and Amna met him at the central bus in Jewish, West Jerusalem.

They reportedly took a taxi to the Israeli checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah. The boy was surprised by the military activity there, and according to Channel 2 TV, she told him that was normal for Jerusalem. They then got into a private car and headed for Ramallah's outskirts.

Two Fatah activists waited for them there, Amna said. They were members of Yasser Arafat's Fatah Tanzim groups, according to the Israeli report. They were members of the Fatah Shabiba youth groups, according to the defense attorney.

The Palestinian men were supposed to take Ophir to a hiding place, Boulous quoted Amna as saying.

They tried to pull Ophir out of the car, but he "resisted strongly and started to scream loudly," Boulous quoted Amna as saying.

"The Palestinian tried again by using maximum force and came with another person.

"When the Israeli resisted and screamed, the Palestinian fired two shots at his legs to weaken his resistance and pull him out."

Ophir continued screaming and resisting strongly and the gunman shot him, the defense attorney said. According to the General Security Service report the Palestinian fired tens of bullets from his Kalachnikov assault rifle. Israeli soldiers nearby heard the shooting, but they army said later they thought it was an internal Palestinian affair and did not intervene.

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According to Boulous, Amna shouted at the gunman "Why? Why?" She wanted to walk toward the gunman, but it was all over within a minute.

The two men, whom the Israelis identified as Hassan Alkadi and Abdul Fatah Doleh of Bituniya, loaded Ophir's body into their vehicle and fled to the autonomous Palestinian Ramallah where they buried the body.

Local residents discovered it the following day, and at first thought it was a Palestinian body. They took it to the hospital in Ramallah, which was stumped as to who he was.

Meanwhile the Israelis were looking for Ophir, who had not returned home. A reading of his mobile phone calls reportedly suggested he was in the Jerusalem area.

The Israelis sent the Palestinians a description of the boy, the blue jeans he wore, the Nike sneakers. They finally faxed his picture and got back his badly mutilated body.

The General Security Service said it will continue its efforts to apprehend the others who had been involved in Ophir's murder.

Amna could be charged as an accessory to murder.

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