Magazine article Newsweek

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Magazine article Newsweek

Most Wanted

Article excerpt

THEY ARE BOTH KNOWN IN PALESTINian circles as engineers. Mousa Mohamed Abu Marzook, 44, studied engineering at Louisiana State University, and for the past 14 years he has been a legal resident of the United States. Yehya Ayyash, about 28 years old, studied engineering at Bir Zeit University in the occupied West Bank, but it was his skill in building terrorist bombs that earned him his underground nickname: the Engineer. Both men are said to be connected to Hamas, the militant Islamic movement that opposes peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And last week, after another suicide bombing in Israel, both engineers were being hotly pursued by the Israeli government.

The bomb went off aboard bus No. 20 in the outskirts of Tel Aviv, killing six Israelis and the Arab-looking bomber himself. A short time later, as workers were still collecting the broken bodies, someone called Israeli Radio's Arabic service and announced: "The cells of Yehya Ayyash ... are responsible for the attack." In fact, there was no proof that Ayyash had a hand in the bombing, or even that he was still living in Palestinian territory; rumors said he may have fled to Egypt or Libya. The myth may have outstripped the man, crediting him for every bombing and making him a symbol of extremist opposition.

Israeli security officials say they have information that Ayyash and a confederate made some of their bombs out of fertilizer and ingredients bought at a pharmacy, such as acetone and peroxide. But Ayyash allegedly used TNT for a bomb that destroyed a bus in Tel Aviv last October, killing 22 people. At the top of Israel's most-wanted list, Ayyash has been on the Shin Bet," says Ronni Shaked, a former agent of the Israeli security service and author of a book on Islamic militants. "Nobody wants to take him alive."

Marzook was taken, quite tamely, when he returned to the United States after an absence of several months. …

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