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Court extends remand of alleged TA bus bomber
By YONAH JEREMY BOB,
07/01/2013
Muhammad Abed al-Jaffer Nasser Mafarja is remanded into custody until the end of legal proceedings against him.
 
The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday remanded alleged Tel Aviv bus bomber Muhammad Abed al-Jaffer Nasser Mafarja to police custody until the conclusion of legal proceedings against him.

Mafarja was indicted on December 19 for planting an explosive device on a Tel Aviv bus, which injured 24 on November 21 at the tail end of Operation Pillar of Defense.

The 18-year-old Taiba resident was charged with aiding the enemy in a time of war, dozens of counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, causing an explosion, aggravated assault, illegally transporting weapons and providing assistance to an illegal organization.

Originally from the West Bank, Mafarja was able to move within the Green Line and acquire Israeli identification documents after a family reunification.

A recently filed separate indictment in the West Bank military courts alleged that Ahmad Salah Ahmad Musa, a 25-year-old resident of Beit Likya, headed the terrorist cell to which Mafarja belonged and was the mastermind of the attack.

Musa is charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, dealing in weapons and materials for war, creating an explosive, membership in an illegal organization and incitement, among other crimes.

Mafarja was charged in Tel Aviv due to his Israeli citizenship, whereas Musa and other cell members were charged in the West Bank because they are Ramallah residents.

According to prosecutors, on the morning of the bombing, Mafarja spent a few hours riding around on several different buses in Tel Aviv while carrying the bomb, all while looking for a bus full of passengers.

Eventually, he got on Bus 142 from Ramat Gan to Tel Aviv.

Just before he arrived at a bus stop at the Ramat Gan industrial district, Mafarja activated the bomb and then left it on the third seat on the right side and got off the bus.

He called Musa immediately afterward and told him that the bomb was in place.

Minutes later, the bus arrived near the corner of Shaul Hamelech Boulevard and Henrietta Szold Street, where the bomb was detonated.

The medium-sized bomb was packed with over 800 screws and used fireworks components as its explosive component.

Prosecutors said that after Mafarja got off the bus, he took a train from the Savidor Central Train Station back to Modi’in, where he returned his job at the McDonald’s eatery in the Azrieli Mall.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and police said that several hours after the bombing, they managed to arrest the members of the Beit Likya cell, including Musa.

Supt. Rona Morad-Fingelay, head of the special investigations branch of the Yarkon Police subdistrict, said at the time of Mafarja’s indictment that police had identified him as the bomber within an hour or so of the attack, and that by 4:30 p.m. that day, police and Shin Bet officers had arrested him at his place of work.

Shortly thereafter, he led police to the other members of the cell, including Musa, she said.

Morad-Fingelay added that hundreds of police officers, Border Police, Shin Bet and IDF personnel took part in the short-lived manhunt.

Though she would not get into the specifics of how police homed in on him, Morad-Fingelay said it was not prior intelligence that led them to Mafarja, who was seen by a number of people fleeing the scene of the bombing and was caught on CCTV video at the site as well.

She added that during a Shin Bet interrogation following his arrest, Mafarja confessed to the crime and reenacted it for the investigators.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.
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