Freed Jordanian who killed seven Israeli girls shows no remorse
A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in a 1997 shooting rampage was unrepentant after his release from prison Sunday, lashing out at Israelis with harshly derogatory remarks.
Ahmed Daqamseh, who had spent 20 years in prison, was given a rousing welcome in his home village in northern Jordan after his release. He was greeted by chanting supporters who kissed him on the cheek and raised a photo of him with the cation, 'Welcome to the hero Daqamseh.'
Daqamseh opened fire on a group of Israeli students at the scenic Island of Peace border post in March 1997, killing seven and wounding seven.
A Jordanian military court deemed Daqamseh mentally unstable and sentenced him to life in prison, rather than imposing the death penalty. Jordan had announced several days ago that Daqamseh would be released this week, after completing his term. In Jordan, life terms are not open-ended, and prisoners can be released after 20 years.
Upon arriving in his hometown, Daqamseh expressed no regrets, telling a reporter that Israelis are "human garbage".
Israel's government had no comment Sunday.
Israel and Jordan cooperate closely on security matters, including in the battle against Islamic extremism, even if their 1994 peace treaty remains widely unpopular in Jordan where many residents have Palestinian roots.
Yisrael Fatihi, whose 13-year-old daughter Sivan was killed in the attack, told Israel Radio on Sunday that he had been informed by the Israeli Embassy in Jordan last week that Daqamseh's release was imminent.
"It is unfortunate, but this is the situation," Fatihi said.
After the shooting, Jordan's King Hussein the late father of the current king, Abdullah II rushed to Israel and paid condolence visits to the girls' families, a gesture that touched many Israelis at the time.
Fatihi recalled Hussein's condolence visit, saying he and his family had been sitting on the floor in mourning at the time and that the monarch knelt down next to them. "We told him we really appreciated his visit," Fatihi said.
Nurit, his wife, told The Associated Press her daughter was a "very happy" child who "took everything easily." She said she misses "her laughter, her smile, her joy of life.
"Despite the murder, we are for peace," she said.
Daqamseh was released from prison before dawn Sunday.