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      New Revelations In Mike's Place Bombing

      New information revealed during the investigation into the April suicide bombing of Mike's Place pub in Tel Aviv was made public for the first time last night (Monday).
      First Publish: 6/3/2003, 7:17 PM

      New information revealed during the investigation into the April suicide bombing of Mike's Place pub in Tel Aviv was made public for the first time last night (Monday). The two British terrorists, Assif Mahmoud Hanif, 22, and his accomplice Omar Khan Sharif, 27, were not affiliated with al-Qaeda, as was originally suspected, but with the Palestinian Authority-based Hamas. The General Security Service (GSS) reported that the terrorists made contact with members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) before carrying out their attack. "The two terrorists were careful to base their presence in Judea and Samaria by forging links with members of the ISM," the GSS report stated.

      Hanif and Sharif arrived in Israel via Jordan two weeks before the attack, although the GSS is still investigating how they succeeded in crossing the Allenby bridge without raising suspicions. The bombers then visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Hevron, Ramallah and Shechem, and twice went to Gaza. Their trips served to provide the two British terrorists with a cover and allowed them to carry out extensive reconnaissance in Israeli cities. In Jerusalem, for instance, the pair had themselves photographed by the Western Wall, complete with kippot on their heads, while in fact they were observing and recording the security arrangements at the holy site. While traveling the country, the pair made use of their ISM contacts, some of which had been made in Gaza, with Italian journalists and with an Arab from the village of Na'ama. Having gained entry as British "peace activists", the terrorists even took part in some anti-IDF demonstrations.

      At about 1:00am on April 30, 2003, Hanif attempted to enter Mike's Place on Herbert Samuel Street in Tel Aviv, not far from the United States Embassy. The security guard posted at the entrance detected the bomber and immediately blocked him from entering the pub. Hanif self-detonated on the spot, killing three people and injuring 55. His partner, Sharif, fled the scene, apparently when his explosive device failed to detonate. His whereabouts at the time were unknown, but the body of the would-be suicide bomber turned up on a Tel Aviv beach two weeks later. Forensic pathologists reported the cause of death to be drowning.

      Immediately after the bombing in Tel Aviv, police arrested two French citizens at a hotel in Jerusalem. The Frenchmen had rifle shells and pictures of possible terrorist targets in their possession at the time of the arrests. During their interrogation, the French suspects admitted traveling around with the two British terrorists, but denied being involved in the attack. They were expelled to France.

      In light of the newly revealed information in the case, the Prime Minister's Office has released a statement condemning the ISM for playing an active role in "illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers...." The statement, released today, continues, "At times, their activity in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations."