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Soccer crazy suicide bomber nabbed

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September 22, 2004 12:41 IST

A Palestinian suicide bomber caught at a Gaza border terminal three weeks ago wearing explosives-packed underpants said on Tuesday he had planned an attack on an Israeli soccer stadium.

"I agreed to carry out the attack in Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa. I like soccer and used to go to Bloomfield whenever Maccabi Haifa was playing," the bomber, identified as Mohammed al-Ghazi, told Israel's Channel One television.

Ghazi said he used to work in Jaffa, adjacent to Tel Aviv, before a Palestinian uprising began four years ago, and was recruited as a suicide bomber by the militant Hamas group.

Ghazi is in custody, having been captured by Israeli soldiers at the Erez border crossing between Israel and Gaza on August 31.

He was wearing a new form of explosives belt -- underpants with explosives sewn inside -- when he was seized.

Israeli premier league games are played at Bloomfield, but none was scheduled at the stadium on the day Ghazi was apprehended. The next match was scheduled for 10 days later.

Citing security concerns, European soccer's governing body UEFA in March 2002 barred all official international matches in Israel. It lifted the ban in April this year.
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