The Shin Bet and Israel Police have uncovered a Global Jihad terror cell in eastern Jerusalem that was directed from Gaza and which was planning to carry out a murderous attack on a civilian bus.
A gag order on the investigation has just been removed.
A total of three suspects have been arrested, all of whom are believed to have been recruited online as part of an Al Qaeda plot ordered by the jihadi network's central leadership, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri. They have been named as Iyad Khalid Abu Sara and Rubin Abu-Nagma, both in their twenties and from Jerusalem; and Ala Anam, a resident of the Palestinian Authority city of Jenin who is in his thirties.
The cell was apparently directed by a Gaza-based Al Qaeda operative named Arib Al-Sham.
Terrorist massacres averted
According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), one of the plans was to carry out a suicide attack on a bus traveling from Jerusalem to Maaleh Adumim.
That attack would have involved firing at the bus's tires first, in order to cause it to overturn. Then the terrorist was to murder the bus's occupants at close range and await rescue forces, whom he would also fire at.
Another terrorist was to assist in carrying out a double suicide bombing at Jerusalem's Binyanei Hauma Convention Center, as well as a bombing at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Those attacks were to have been carried out by foreign terrorists who would arrive in Israel with forged Russian documents, disguised as tourists, according to the Shin Bet.
23-year-old Abu Sara was supposed to meet these foreign terrorists, prepare the explosives for their explosive belts and for a truck bomb, and lead them to their targets.
Abu Sara agreed to travel to Syria for military training, including training in production of explosives. He made preparations to go to Turkey, from which he was to cross into Syria, and received computer files from Gaza with instructions on production of explosives.
Abu Sara reportedly studied the roads leading to Binyanei Hauma and the US Embassy, and is well acquainted with the bus lines between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim.
Another member of the cell, Rubin Abu Nagma, confessed in his interrogation that he had planned various terror attacks, including the abduction of a soldier from a Jerusalem bus station and detonation of an explosive charge against Jewish families who live in a building in the Abu Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem.
He had access to weapons and taught himself about explosive production with materials he downloaded from the internet, he said.
A third member of the cell, Ala Anam, also admitted to being in touch with Arib Al-Sham regarding the establishment of a Salafi Jihad terror cell in Samaria.
The arrests underline the emerging threat to Israel from "Global Jihadi" elements linked to or inspired by Al Qaeda, in addition to Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad whose aims are "limited" to the destruction of the State of Israel, and Arab nationalist groups such as Fatah.
Back in November, Israeli security forces shot dead three "Salafi" terrorists near Hevron in Judea. The men were apparently planning a string of deadly attacks against Israeli and Palestinian Authority targets in Judea and Samaria.