Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Photo, Associated Press
JERUSALEM, Israel – The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested a 3-member terror cell led by a Syrian-based terrorist targeting Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Details of the arrests, which took place in April, were cleared for publication Tuesday. Mayor Barkat released a statement praising the Shin Bet and saying the agency kept him updated throughout the process. “I could trust them and sleep quietly and safely,” he said in a statement.
According to the Shin Bet's report, Israeli authorities arrested Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh, 30, a resident of the Shuafat neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. The suspect, who holds an Israeli ID card, has served time for terror-related offenses. An Israel identification card allows its owner freedom of movement throughout the country.
During interrogation, Rashdeh admitted he received his orders from “foreign-based terrorists” and planned to carry out “significant attacks” against Israeli leaders.
The Shin Bet further revealed that Rashdeh planned attacks on the US consulate building (now the US Embassy) in Jerusalem as well as on members of a Canadian delegation tasked with training Palestinian Authority forces in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank).
To advance several of the attacks, cell members reportedly planned to bring a Jordanian terrorist to Israel. Rashdeh said his Syrian handler instructed him to gather intelligence on prospective targets to advance the terror cell's operations.
The Shin Bet's arrest and interrogation of the two other cell members verified the agency's suspicions, thwarting the attacks it was planning. The suspects were indicted this past Sunday, May 27.