The Haifa District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday filed an indictment with the district court against three men from Arara for allegedly aiding Nashat Milhem, the terrorist gunman in the deadly New Year’s Day shooting on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.
The assailant shot and killed the manager and a patron of the Simta pub and a taxi driver, wounded seven others, and paralyzed the nation, in particular the Tel Aviv area, for several days while a manhunt was under way amid concern that the terrorist intended to carry out more attacks.
Milhem’s associates were named as Amin Milhem, 23, Muhammad Milhem, 22, both relatives, and Ayoub Salama Rashid, 22, a friend of his.
Milhem, 31, from Arara in Wadi Ara, was armed with a Falcon submachine gun, planned the Dizengoff-area attack and carried it out alone, under the influence of Islamic State and Salafi-jihadist ideology, according to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigators.
After firing 22 bullets at the pub, fatally shooting manager Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi, from Ofakim, Milham fled and flagged down the first taxi he saw, which was driven by Lod resident Amin Sha’aban, an Israeli Arab.
Milham rode in the taxi to North Tzuk Beach in northern Tel Aviv, near the Mandarin Hotel, where he shot and killed Sha’aban after the driver apparently suspected him of being linked to the attack.
The Shin Bet said he then got behind the wheel of the taxi, but abandoned it on Namir Road after having difficulties driving it. He continued northward to the Wadi Ara region via a public bus.
Milham, who served time in prison from 2007 to 2013 for an attempt to snatch a weapon from a soldier, planned and carried out the attack alone, but investigators found that he had accomplices.
The indictment describes the roles of his three associates as follows: Amin found Nashat hiding in the storage shed next to his (Amin’s) home in Arara on January 3.
The two men hugged and Nashat told Amin about his terrorist attacks and his leaving behind symbols to show they were religiously motivated.
The symbols included leaving a Koran near the pub and hanging an Islamic State flag on a building in the Ramat Aviv neighborhood in north Tel Aviv.
He told Amin that he carried out the attacks to achieve the status of a martyr and to atone for some of his past un-Islamic behavior.
Nashat asked Amin to provide him with food and hashish.
He further told Amin that he intended to carry out an additional terrorist attack in Afula, that he still had 32 bullets for his gun. He asked Amin to get him more bullets.
Amin told him he would help Nashat, but that he wanted to carry out the next attack against the IDF’s Camp 80, a basic training base near Pardess Hana.
The two cousins had a significant debate about whether it was preferable to carry out the next attack in Afula or at Camp 80.
Next Muhammad met up with Nashat and Amin and he also agreed to help.
At Nashat’s instruction, Muhammad left, purchased a cellphone for Nashat and brought it to him.
Amin helped Nashat relocate his hiding spot to an empty home near the storage shed.
On January 4, around 7 p.m., Nashat met his friend Rashid in a public garden near the entrance to Arara and asked him to buy him cigarettes, which Rashid brought to him at the same spot the next day around 7:30 p.m.
Rashid met several more times with Nashat on January 6 to plan getting him more ammunition and discussed helping him with the next terrorist attack as well as whether to carry it out in Tel Aviv or in the North.
Rashid tried to get ammunition and more weapons for Nashat from fellow villagers Nadr Daef, Bilal Yunis and Salam Abu Ayosh, mentioning to them that he was getting them for the Tel Aviv gunman, but they all refused.
They agreed to meet and carry out the attack on January 8, but early on January 7, Rashid’s father turned him into police, eventually assisting in locating Nashat.
When security personnel arrived on January 8, Milham exited his hideout with his firearm, opening fire on the officers, the Shin Bet said. During the exchange of fire, police counterterrorism officers shot and killed him.
While in the Arara police station on January 8, Rashid saw his employer, Mahmoud Zamal, who had overheard his and Nashat’s plans while they discussed them at a convenience store, and threatened Zamal that he would “pay dearly until his last day” for reporting them to the police.
Amin was charged with being an accessory after the fact (e.g., aiding Nashat after the crime had been committed, but with no role in the crime itself), covering up the crime and attempting to conspire to aid the enemy in time of war.
Muhammad was also charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Rashid was charged with being an accessory after the fact, attempting to conspire to aid the enemy in time of war, and attempting to commit a crime with a weapon and illegal threatening.
Milham had lost his cellphone on the morning of the attack, but a passerby found it and turned it in. The intelligence agency analyzed video stored in the device, before releasing it to the media on Wednesday.
The videos show Milham discussing his hashish, marijuana and alcohol consumption.
He then discusses extremist jihadist ideas, saying he studied religious ideas to prepare himself for the attack, and expressing hatred for “the enemies of Islam,” defined as “Shi’ites, Christians, Jews and Russians.”
The Shin Bet said Milham used Islamic State and Salafi-jihadist terminology in the videos.