A group of Palestinians from a village north of Jerusalem plotted to kidnap an Israeli soldier and use him as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Ahmed Sadat, the former head of the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Monday.

According to the Shin Bet, Rajab Aldin, a 42-year-old resident of the town of Hizma and PFLP operative, led the cell.

The cell planned to kidnap a soldier, hide him in a safe house or cave near the village and then transfer him in exchange for cash to relatives of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

The cell members planned to offer the kidnapped soldier to the relatives of Sadat – who is currently in Israeli prison – as well as to the family of jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti.

Sadat was sentenced in 2008 to 30 years in prison for running a terrorist organization, which was behind numerous attacks against Israel during the second intifada and carried out the assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.

The cell planned to stop their car next to a soldier and to forcibly pull him inside, beat him with a metal pipe and restrain him with handcuffs.

In late December, the cell parked its car next to the Ma’aleh Adumim Junction and planned to kidnap a soldier. After 10 minutes though, no soldiers arrived and the cell drove away.

On January 4, the cell tried again but again could not find a soldier. At one point, the cell members spotted a female settler near Ma’aleh Adumim and considered abducting her but decided that a soldier would be more valuable. The cell tried again two days later but failed to find a solider near Ma’aleh Adumim then as well.

The cell members then considered abducting a soldier from inside Jerusalem or Tel Aviv but failed to act on those plans prior to the Shin Bet and Israel Police arresting them in May.

The Shin Bet said the foiled plot was part of increased efforts by the PFLP to secure Sadat’s release and that it demonstrates the determination among Palestinian terror groups to kidnap soldiers.

In March, the IDF launched a media campaign aimed at preventing soldiers from hitchhiking, based on fears that Palestinian terror groups were more motivated than ever to abduct soldiers.

In 2011, the IDF recorded around 20 attempts to kidnap soldiers in the West Bank.

Under the slogan, “Don’t catch a ride. The ride might catch you,” the IDF’s campaign appears on billboards at train and bus stations and on popular websites.

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