In early 2004, a team of journalists found strong
evidence that former reporter Jack Kelley fabricated
substantial portions of at least eight major stories
and lifted nearly two dozen quotes or other material
from competing publications. The results of the
investigation were published March 19, 2004. This story was among those cited. The
investigation found that the events of the suicide
bombing at the Sbarro pizza restaurant differed
substantially from what Kelley reported, including
that: no adult victims were decapitated; Kelley did
not see the suicide bomber before the explosion
because the alleged bomber he described did not fit
the bomber's actual description; in addition to the
suicide bomber, three men, not four as Kelley
reported, were killed in the blast; the bomber's
head and upper torso flew up and got stuck in a vent
so Kelley could not have seen an Israeli police
officer try to kick the head of the suicide bomber;
there is no record of a Rabbi Moshe Aaron, quoted by
Kelley, as working as a volunteer at the scene;
Kelley likely was not with an Israeli intelligence
officer, as he claimed.
By Jack Kelley
TODAY's Jack Kelley was 30 yards away
the bomb detonated. Here is his report:
JERUSALEM — It was a scene out of a war movie. The
blast was so powerful it blew out the front of the
Sbarro pizza restaurant on Jaffa Street. It knocked
down people up to 30 yards away and sent flesh onto
second-story balconies on the next block.
Traumatized women, some with nails from the bomb
embedded in their faces, arms and chests, huddled on
the street corner and cried. Men stood motionless in
shock. Children, their faces burned, walked around
screaming, "Mom, mom, where are you?" Blood
splattered the walls and dripped onto sidewalks.
Thursday's suicide bombing, which killed at least 15
people and injured nearly 90, struck downtown
Jerusalem at the busiest time of the day — as the
lunch hour was ending, at 2 p.m. I was walking near
the restaurant when the bomber struck.
The attack was the deadliest in Israel since the
suicide bombing June 1 of a Tel Aviv disco that
claimed the lives of 21 young Israelis. With so many
people critically injured, it threatens to become
the most deadly attack since violence erupted here
Officials warned that the death toll could rise. At
least 10 people were in critical condition,
including a 4-month-old child.
An entire family — a couple and their three children
— were killed, relatives said. The family had lived
in a settlement in the West Bank.
Two foreign tourists were among the dead, Israeli
public radio reported. The radio identified them as
Judith Greenbaum, 31, from New Jersey and Giora
Balach, 60, from Brazil.
Hanna Tova Nachemberg, 31, of Riverdale, N.Y., was
critically wounded with shrapnel in her chest,
according to Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute
Three French tourists also were injured.
"The bomber knew what he was doing," Jerusalem Mayor
Ehud Olmert said as he helped teams of Orthodox
rabbis gather pieces of flesh from the street. Under
Jewish law, people's bodies must be placed in their
"This is a massacre," Olmert said.
The militant Muslim group Islamic Jihad, in a
telephone interview with USA TODAY, claimed
responsibility for the attack. It identified the
suicide bomber as Hussein Omar Abu Naaseh, 23,
of the West Bank town of Jenin.
"We want this successful operation to prove to the
terrorist (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon that
we can, and we will, continue to get him and his
fellow pigs and monkeys where it hurts the most,"
senior Islamic Jihad official Abdallah al-Shami
Sharon convened an emergency meeting of his Security
Cabinet immediately after the bombing and vowed to
retaliate against militant Muslim leaders. Israel
has been targeting Palestinian extremists and
assassinating them. It says they direct the
Soon after the bombing, Palestinian Television
reported that Israeli tanks were shelling homes in
Later in the day, Israeli soldiers took over a
Palestinian security building in Abu Dis, which is
next to Jerusalem.
The Israeli military sealed the entire West Bank and
was moving troops into Jenin, the suicide bomber's
Palestinian flag comes down
The Israelis also closed nine Palestinian Authority
offices in East Jerusalem, including Orient House,
the unofficial Palestinian foreign ministry. Seven
Palestinian officials were brought out of Orient
House early today and taken into custody by the
Israeli military. Soldiers took down the Palestinian
flag and replaced it with the Israeli flag.
Also, Israeli F-16 warplanes fired missiles at a
Palestinian police building near Ramallah in the
West Bank early today, Palestinians said. There were
no casualties, but the building was destroyed. It
was the first F-16 attack since May. Until now,
Israel had confined its retaliation for Palestinian
attacks to tank and helicopter strikes on
Palestinian police positions.
"We hold (Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser)
Arafat responsible for this madness," Israeli
government spokesman Danny Naveh said. "He has given
the green light to Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the
But Palestinian Authority spokesman Yasser Abed
Rabbo, who denounced the bombing, blamed Sharon for
carrying out "Mafia-style" assassinations of nearly
60 militant Muslim leaders since September. "Sharon
has inflamed the Palestinian people with his
terrorist, gangland-style assassinations," Rabbo
The popular Sbarro restaurant, like other shops and
eating places along Jaffa Street, was packed at
lunchtime, so I and an Israeli official I was
scheduled to interview decided not to eat there.
Several customers, including three mothers and their
infants in strollers, stood outside on the sidewalk,
eating their pizza and plates of spaghetti. Dozens
of pedestrians pushed their way around the women or
were forced to walk along the busy street next to
the crowded buses.
Among those I could see fighting their way into the
restaurant was a young man, wearing a white T-shirt
and dark sport jacket. A black pouch, similar to a
small camera case, was attached to his waist. He
appeared to be Palestinian.
Once inside, he stared at the fluorescent menu board
and at the red, green and white tiles, as if to
survey his surroundings, one of the restaurant
workers said later. He then asked the restaurant
clerk how long he would have to wait for a plate of
take-out spaghetti. As the clerk answered, witnesses
said, the man reached inside his pouch and calmly
detonated what turned out to be a bomb.
The explosion was deafening and sent out a burst of
heat that could be felt far down the street. It blew
out windows and threw tables and chairs into the
air. Victims' arms and legs rained onto the street.
Three men who had been eating pizza inside were
catapulted out on the chairs they had been sitting
on. When they hit the ground, their heads separated
from their bodies and rolled down the street. Dozens
of men, women and children, their bodies punctured
by nails from the bomb, began dropping in pain. One
woman had six nails in her neck. Another had a nail
in her left eye.
Two men, one with a 6-inch piece of glass in his
right temple, the other with glass shards in his
calf, fell to the ground bleeding. A passerby tried
to comfort them but broke down crying. As he walked
away, he tripped on a decapitated body and fell.
Next to them, a man groaned in pain. "Help me,
please. I'm dying," he said. His legs had been blown
off. Blood poured from his torso. An Israeli
soldier, upon seeing him, gasped "Oh, God," dropped
his gun and vomited. The man bled to death less than
a minute later.
'There could be another bomb!'
Police officers began arriving, yelling into their
handheld walkie-talkies and shouting instructions
for bystanders to leave. "There could be another
bomb! There could be another bomb!" a police officer
yelled into a megaphone. He began to cordon off the
Few could hear him over the screams of the injured,
the sirens of approaching ambulances and the shrill
blare of dozens of car alarms set off by the
Suddenly, a Palestinian man ran up to an injured
Israeli as if to help. An Israeli soldier butted the
Palestinian in the chest with his rifle, knocking
him to the ground. "I'm a nurse! I'm a nurse," the
Palestinian yelled. As he got up, another Israeli
soldier threw him against a wall, grabbed him by the
neck and placed him under arrest. Two other soldiers
hauled him off, hitting him in the head as they
"Terrorist!" a nearby police officer yelled,
pointing at the man.
Meanwhile, yards away, a little girl about 3 years
old, her face covered with glass, walked among the
bodies, calling out her mother's name. Seconds
later, she found her. The girl told her mother to
get up. But the mother, apparently already dead,
didn't respond. The girl, hysterical and still
unaware of what had happened, was led away by an
Inside the blackened shell of the restaurant, a
policeman pointed to what he said was the top of the
head of the suicide bomber, which was lying on the
floor. The nose and mouth were missing. The teeth
appeared to be lying nearby.
"You've killed us all, you bastard," the officer
said, pointing to the head.
He then tried to kick the head, but was stopped by
another officer. The man spat at the head as he was
Dozens of ambulances arrived over the next thirty
minutes to cart off the dead and injured as
relatives begin arriving. Rabbis, with white gloves,
raced around the street picking up pieces of flesh.
One rabbi found a small hand splattered against a
white Subaru parked outside the restaurant.
"It's of a girl," Rabbi Moshe Aaron said. "She was
probably 5 or 6, the same age as my daughter." He
gently put it into a bag.
"I wish I could say there won't be anything like
this tragedy again," Aaron said. "But it's just a
matter of time until another bomber kills more of
us. It'll be like this until the end of time."