TRIPOLI, Lebanon: A stream of men embrace Khoder Issa Khaddour, kissing his head as his father’s coffin rests on his shoulders.
Khoder smiles through the ordeal, urging all to congratulate him on his father’s martyrdom, not mourn his demise.
“We are proud of him, and he is the martyr of all of Jabal Mohsen and Lebanon,” he told The Daily Star outside his house, a short walk away from the site of a twin suicide bombing that struck the majority-Alawite neighborhood in Tripoli Saturday night.
“This terrorism targets all of Lebanon and not just Jabal Mohsen. He is the martyr of Lebanon.”
“Tell me mabrook, he is a martyr of the nation,” he added.
“He did this to save his family of Jabal Mohsen.”
Residents and eyewitnesses told The Daily Star that Khoder’s father, “Abu Ali” Issa Khaddour, 60, immediately rushed to the scene of the first suicide bombing after hearing the explosion from his house.
His father was often impulsive, Khoder said.
There, Abu Ali noticed a man walking to the gathering crowd and the nearby, large Omran cafe, shouting “Allahu akbar.”
Residents and witnesses said Abu Ali rushed to the man and tackled him before the suicide bomber detonated his vest. The action prevented a larger massacre, locals said.
“I was very happy,” Khoder said, when asked how he reacted to the news. “Our traditions and our faith tell us to give martyrs, and my father was a hero and a martyr.”
“He died a hero and a martyr.”
Abu Ali was father to three sons and four daughters. But Khoder said the tightly knit community of Jabal Mohsen was all one family, and his father died to save them.
But so are the rest of the people of Tripoli, he said, who are innocent of the actions of the men who killed his father. “His parting is a shock to us, but we are proud of him,” he said. “God protect all of the Lebanese people from terrorism.”