Israel’s Shin Bet security services revealed on Tuesday that they succeeded in thwarting an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in April.
Eastern Jerusalem Israeli Arab Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh from the Shuafat neighborhood was arrested on April 24, and two more suspects were arrested in the following weeks, but the Shin Bet would not identify them.
The Shin Bet accused Rashdeh of plotting with terror operatives from the Syrian-based, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-GC) to murder Netanyahu and Barkat, and to target the US consulate in Jerusalem – which is now the US embassy – as well as a Canadian security delegation who were in Jerusalem to train Palestinian Authority security forces operating in Judea and Samaria.
Security officials said Rashdeh intended to bring another terrorist from Jordan, and had already begun gathering information on his targets.
Rashdeh has been arrested for terror-related acts in the past.
“Our internal security agency is one of the best in the world,” Barkat said in a statement. “Throughout their handling of this threat, I was updated and knew that the Shin Bet was in the picture and that the police were in the field. I could trust in them and sleep soundly and securely.”
The PFLP-GC is responsible for multiple savage terror attacks. Perhaps its most famous involved the murder of nine Israeli school children and three adults in a school bus in 1970 on the road to Moshav Avivim. The terror group shot two rocket-propelled grenades at the bus and then continued to fire at the vehicle after it crashed, in one of its first terror attacks.
Also in 1970, the group detonated two-inflight airliners. A Swissair flight to Tel Aviv killed 41 people, and an Austrian Airlines flight from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv, which managed to make an emergency landing.
In 1974, the group massacred 18 people, including 9 children, in Kiryat Shemona during the Passover holiday.
The group went underground in the 1980s, but began operating again during the Syrian civil war.