Khalil al-Nawara, 25, first came to public attention for his role in attacks on and the murder of Israelis. An Israel Defense Forces website lists him as an operative of the Tanzim military wing and an aide to the Tanzim head in Bethlehem, then notes he "carried out shooting attacks, one of which caused the death of an Israeli citizen." Al-Nawara acquired more notoriety as one of the 13 Palestinians who took over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in April 2002 and occupied the ancient sanctity for 38 days. As the result of a deal struck in May 2002, the Israelis allowed him to go into exile.
The Belgian government, eager to help a Palestinian in flight from the Israelis, offered to grant al-Nawara asylum and provide him with financial assistance. Although initially under guard by Belgian security forces, he was soon deemed not a public threat and could move about.
Despite all these benefits, all was not good with al-Nawara; in August 2002, the poor fellow expressed feelings of loneliness and depression to the Belgian daily Le Soir: "I do live with Palestinians, but I do not know any body else and there is no work to do…. even when I am among people, I feel alone."
Now fast-forward sixteen months, to December 2003. Le Soir reports that large number of security forces searched 44 locations in the Brussels area, arrested seven individuals, including al-Nawara, on suspicion of using explosives to rob post offices of more than 215,000.
It's not a pretty emotion, but this is one occasion when Schadenfreude seems appropriate. (December 18, 2003)