Shin Bet: Second Terrorist Attack was “Days Away”

January 5, 2014

3 min read

The terrorist cell behind the December 22, 2013 bus bombing in Bat Yam was days away from conducting a second similar attack in Tel Aviv. The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, confirmed the thwarted plan after arresting and questioning members of the cell. Four terrorists and 10 suspects were arrested last week in Bethlehem, along with explosives that were to be used in the upcoming attack.

The cell, part of the group known as Islamic Jihad, is a Palestinian faction with ties to Iran. Questions are now arising as to whether the cell was funded by Iran. In speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Shin Bet sources said that “the cell appears to have been locally formed, but that the next stage of the investigation will seek to determine whether an Iranian influence played a part in orchestrating the bombing.”

Alert passengers on the bus that exploded on December 22nd were responsible for saving the lives of all those aboard the bus. After noticing a medium sized bag left unaccompanied at the back of the bus, passengers alerted the driver who immediately evacuated the bus. Before police were able to diffuse the bomb, it exploded, lightly injuring one policeman.

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The 2 kg bomb, an improvised explosive which was packed with nails and screws and stuffed into a pressure cooker, was activated using a cell phone. The composition of the bomb is very similar to the one that went off during the Boston Marathon in April 2013. This particular bomb making method was made popular by an online Al-Qaeda manual.

Shrapnel from inside the bomb (Photo: Shin Bet)
Shrapnel from inside the bomb (Photo: Shin Bet)
Metal pieces packed inside the bomb. (Photo: Shin Bet)
Metal pieces packed inside the bomb. (Photo: Shin Bet)

Brothers Shahada Muhammad Ta’amri, 24, a former security prisoner, and Hamdi Muhammad Ta’amri, 21, a PA policeman in commander’s training, are believed to be the leaders of the Islamic Jihad cell. The two other confirmed terrorists were Sami Harimi, 20, and Yousef Salame, 22. The Ta’amri brothers are responsible for the actual creation of the bomb. Upon his arrest, Hamdi Ta’amri led Israeli security officials to a hidden cache of 20 kg of explosives meant to be used in further attacks.

Members of the Islamic Jihad cell that carried out the Bat Yam bus bombing. (Photo: Shin Bet)
Members of the Islamic Jihad cell that carried out the Bat Yam bus bombing. (Photo: Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet reported that on the morning of the bombing, Harimi carried the bomb in a black gym bag, traveling south from Bethlehem to the South Mount Hebron. There, Harimi was able to sneak through a hole in the security fence dividing Israel and the West Bank with a group of Palestinian workers.

Once in Israeli territory, Harimi hitched a ride with a Bedouin citizen of Israel who is known to have taken part in illegally transporting individuals into Israel to work. Once in Jaffa, Harimi stopped to pray in a mosque before he boarded the 240 bus line. He left the bag in the center of the bus before disembarking. Harimi was able to activate the bomb “several minutes” later, according to the Shin Bet, using a cell phone that was stuck on to the explosive.

The Ta’amri brothers were both once security prisoners of Israel. They were eventually released. The news that the brothers had been arrested and released, only to plan further attacks, calls into light the decision making process in Israel to release terrorists. Last week, several Israeli MK’s proposed a revolutionary bill that would no longer allow amnesty to convicted terrorists. The decision to pardon and release terrorists has been a long disputed issue in Israeli society.

 

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