Indictments were submitted today against members of a Palestinian terror cell on charges of planning shooting attacks against Jewish worshippers and Israeli authorities around the Temple Mount and in the Old City of Jerusalem. The cell, according to the indictment submitted by the Jerusalem district attorney’s office, was only formed two months ago by Nor Shahada Ahmed Hamdan.
Hamdan, the indictment alleged, contacted members of Hamas’ Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the hopes of receiving operational guidance, arms, and training. At one point, the cell members planned to go to Nablus to meet with a member of Fatah’s Tanzim group to ask for assistance in procuring weapons and money for their activities. Some of the contact with the Hamas members reportedly occurred via Facebook.
During his interrogation with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Hamdan said that he wanted to carry out the attacks in order “to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Hamdan also said he was inspired by YouTube videos detailing previous Palestinian terror attacks, such as the one at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March 2008 that killed eight Israelis.
The members of the cell, all of whom are between the ages of 20 and 30, were: Nor Shahada Ahmed Hamdan, Omar Ghazi Ibrahim Wazwaz, Imad Adnan Subhi Shaer, Jalal Qaid Farooq Qutub, Amgad Adnan Regev Razem, Tariq Ziad Abdullah Ibrahim, and Fares Yahya Mahmoud Dajani.
Today’s indictment comes a day after the Shin Bet revealed that a terrorist involved in the exchange for Gilad Shalit was involved in planning terror attacks in the West Bank. According to the Shin Bet, Amir Dukan, who was released in the Shalit exchange, recruited Amir Brakhat during the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca.
Brakhat was arrested by Israeli authorities in March 2013 prior to carrying out a terror attack. The Shin Bet’s investigation revealed that Dukan had offered $60,000 to Brakhat to carry out an attack.
On April 17, the Shin Bet also announced the recent arrest of two Palestinians, Muhammad Sawalma and Ahmed Sawalma, who were involved in smuggling money for Hamas from Jordan to the West Bank. The two were said to be in contact with the aforementioned Amir Dukan.
While the Israel Prison Service’s list of those released in the Shalit exchange does not appear to contain the name “Amir Dukan,” The Long War Journal is confident that Amir Dukan is also known as Amir Jabar Sharif Sawalma, who is on the list.
Dukan was born in Nablus in 1974, and was serving six life terms for a variety of terrorist activities prior to his release in October 2011. According to the Shin Bet, Dukan has developed relations with a number of Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas, since his deportation to Gaza as part of the Shalit deal.
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