Seven Israeli Arabs allegedly affiliated with al-Qaida and global jihad terrorist elements were indicted on Monday for allegedly murdering a Jewish taxi driver last year and carrying out a string of attacks against Jews and Christians.

The seven, ranging in age from 19 to 26, were arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police in recent weeks.

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“This is one of the most dangerous cells we have ever uncovered,” Dep.-Cmdr. Avi Elgrisi, head of the Amakim District police’s Central Unit said Monday. The investigation, he said, had initially focused on two suspects before being widened to include a total of seven. He added that police expected additional arrests.

The seven said they had founded a group called Aljahabiyya and claimed to follow Salafism, a radical branch of Sunni Islam.

Aljahabiyya was formed two years ago and the suspects confessed to having been inspired by al-Qaida.

The group used the Internet to learn about weapons and to download instructions on the manufacture of improvised explosive devices. It also downloaded al- Qaida propaganda movies and speeches by Osama bin Laden.

“They accessed the Internet for jihadi ideology and indoctrination, and used it as an information source to listen to extremist clerics,” Elgrisi said.

Three of the suspects allegedly involved in the murder

Three of the suspects were allegedly involved in the murder of taxi driver Yafim Weinstein on November 30, 2009. During their interrogations, they confessed to having summoned a taxi to a kibbutz near Nazareth, where one shot Weinstein and the others assisted in disposing of the evidence.

Following their arrest, the three reenacted the murder and led investigators to where they had hid the murder weapon.

Weinstein, 54, a Nazareth Illit resident, was found dead in his cab outside Kibbutz Kfar Hahoresh. He left behind a wife, children and a grandchild. Details of the investigation were under a gag order until Monday morning.

The Shin Bet also found that after the murder, two of the suspects had attempted to travel to an al-Qaida training camp in Somalia to join the fighting against what they termed Christian “heretics,” as well as against the US. The two, however, were barred from entering Somalia through its border with Kenya.

Three others planned to kidnap a Nazareth resident and behead him on video, but did not do so. Elgrisi said that they had even dug a grave for a Christian man they said “insulted the prophet Muhammad.” The men also threw stun grenades and Molotov cocktails at Jewishand Christian-owned businesses and homes in the town. They burned Christian tour buses and dealt in the selling of arms as well.

In addition, they stabbed a pizza delivery man in Nazareth Illit, stealing his scooter and NIS 100.

“We are searching for criminals who sold weapons to the suspects,” Elgrisi said.

“Security suspects will also be arrested.”

During a remand hearing held for the suspects at the Nazareth District Court, defense attorneys said the confessions had been extracted through coercion and claimed that their clients had traveled to Somalia “for a trip.” The suspects, some of them bearded, smiled and waved at supporters as they were led to the courtroom in handcuffs.

Asked by a reporter if they hated Christians and Jews, one suspect replied by declaring “Long live bin Laden.”

In April 2009, Elgrisi led an investigation into a terror cell made up of six Israeli Arabs and a Beduin from the North that had reached an advanced stage in a plot to carry out an attack on Israelis. The cell had prepared several explosive devices and simulated the kidnapping of soldiers while engaging in Internet communications with a terror operative based in Gaza known as “Abu Kassam.”

The cell filmed its preparations, Elgrisi said last year, adding that in one exercise, a member pretended to be an IDF soldier while the remainder of the group practiced abducting him.