By Lilach Shoval, Israel Hayom—
Three Arab Israelis from the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm were arrested in early September on suspicion of planning a shooting attack inside the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, the Shin Bet security agency revealed Thursday.
Said Ghasoub Mahmoud Jabareen, 26, and Firas Saleh Mahmoud Muhajanah, 24, who identify as Islamic State sympathizers, were arrested on suspicion of “support for the Islamic State terrorist group’s murderous ideology, which inspired their planned attack,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
A third suspect, 16, was arrested as an accomplice.
The three were arrested following a joint Shin Bet-Israel Police investigation, which concluded that Jabareen and the minor had planned to carry out a shooting attack on the Temple Mount, similar to the July 14 terrorist attack in which two policemen were murdered at the holy site.
Security forces who raided the suspects’ homes seized two guns and ammunition, allegedly meant to be used in the attack. The raid on Muhajanah’s home yielded a Carl Gustav submachine gun.
During their interrogation, the suspects confessed to supporting Islamic State’s radical ideology, which they said inspired them to plan the attack. The three’s arrests implicated several arms dealers operating in the Umm al-Fahm area. Several suspects were arrested and a number of illegal weapons were seized as well.
“The investigation indicated that shortly after the murderous Temple Mount attack in July 2017, three residents of Umm al-Fahm began planning a similar attack at the site,” a senior Shin Bet official told Israel Hayom.
“Thanks to accurate intelligence, the Shin Bet was able to arrest the members of this cell before they could carry out this serious attack,” he said.
He stressed that the Shin Bet views Israeli Islamic State sympathizers and anyone who maintains contacts with the jihadi group’s operatives outside Israel or who operate under the auspices of the organization on Israeli soil as a serious security threat.
Defense officials said Tuesday that dozens of planned Islamic State attacks around the world have been thwarted in the recent past thanks to intelligence gathered by Israel and shared with other countries, saving scores of lives.