Revenge attack
Revenge attack iStock

The Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police uncovered a terror cell comprised of Arabs with Israeli citizenship who planned an attack against IDF soldiers in the Negev in revenge for the Islamic Movement being outlawed.

Two of the cell's members, Muhammad Masri of Beersheba and Abdullah Abu Ayash of Kuseifeh were arrested in December 2016 and tried. The investigation revealed the involvement of another Israeli citizen, Mahmud Loisi of Qalansawa, who was in Turkey at the time, and was arrested for questioning immediately upon his arrival in Israel in March 2017.

His arrest led to the resumption of the investigation into the attack, and in the context of the renewed investigation Faras al-Omri from Mandala, a senior activist in the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, was also arrested.

In the course of the investigation it became clear that Faras el Omri was the one from whom cell members sought approval for the plan's implementation.

הנשק שנתפס
הנשק שנתפס צילום: תקשורת שב"כ

Al-Omri is familiar with the security forces from his past activities. As part of his activity in the Islamic Movement, al-Omari directed another illegal organization, Yusef alSadik, which dealt with prisoners convicted of security offenses and maintaining contact with them. Al-Omri also served as a security officer for Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.

He is also known to the security forces for his past activities. He founded and headed the Al-Nadia al-Shababiya organization, the youth movement of the Islamic Movement.

Their investigation revealed that in the second half of November 2015, Masri and Vissi came to the protest tent in Umm al-Fahm, which was established following the outlaw of the Islamic Movement. Al-Omri spoke privately with the two men and asked to enlist them for protest activity against the decision in the form of spray-painting slogans.

Later on, the three concluded that it was not enough to spray-paint the slogans and decided to carry out an attack in Israel to support the movement and protest its outlawing.

In order to realize their plan, Masri recruited Abdullah Abu Ayash. Abu Ayash was asked to assist in finding a suitable location for an attack on IDF soldiers and to acquire a vehicle that had been taken off the road to use to carry out the attack.

In the framework of the organization, during the year 2016, Faras el-Omri transferred to Louisi an improvised Carl Gustav-Carlo submachine gun so that Louisi could transfer it to Masri in Be'er Sheva. It was also revealed that at the beginning of 2016, Louisi handed el-Omri electronic traffic signs, which could serve as remote operating systems for improvised explosive devices.

The investigation also revealed that at the end of October 2016, Omri went to Turkey and met Majid Abu Qatish, a senior Hamas activist released in the Shalit deal. At their meeting, Al-Omri asked Abu Qatish for financial assistance and guidance in carrying out the attack he planned. As a result of the investigation, two other Arabs, residents of the Galilee, were arrested on suspicion of committing offenses in connection with the trafficking in weapons.

The Shin Bet says that the Islamic Movement's northern branch has maintained close ties with Hamas over the years, and that the common ideological basis and the deep ties between activists in both organizations pose a grave security risk, especially the movement of Islamic Movement activists from supposed humanitarian activity to terror activity.

"The northern branch of the Islamic Movement continued to operate after it was outlawed, despite the closure of many institutions and bodies of the movement, including the institution of Yusef al-Sadik headed by Faras al-Omri, who assisted prisoners convicted of security offenses.

The investigation reveals the role of former prisoners in the service of the Islamic Movement, who conspired to carry out heavy terrorist activity in solidarity with the movement.

"The law enforcement agencies will continue to take all necessary steps to enforce the declaration of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization, with emphasis on preventing any activity on behalf of the faction in light of the danger it poses to the security of the state," said a Shin Bet statement.