A general view picture shows the Israeli barrier running along the East Jerusalem refugee camp of Shuafat.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency thwarted a terrorist cell directed by an operative in Syria who planned to harm senior Israeli figures and international delegations, it was announced on Tuesday.
According to the Shin Bet, 30-year-old Muhammad Jamal Rashdah from the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem planned to carry out significant attacks against a variety of targets, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Rashdah, a former security prisoner with an Israeli ID card, also planned attacks against a Canadian representatives residing in Jerusalem who train Palestinian Authority forces in the West Bank as well as against buildings belonging to the American consulate.
The Shin Bet investigation also revealed that at the instruction of the operative in Syria, Rashdah carried out preliminary steps to collect intelligence about his intended targets.
A Shin Bet spokeswoman confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that Rashdah received his orders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and in order to promote some of the attacks, the cell intended to bring in a terrorist operative from Jordan.
The PFLP was formed in 1967 and has carried out dozens of deadly attacks, including the hijacking of an Air France flight to Uganda in 1976 and an attack on a nursery in Kibbutz Misgav Am in northern Israel in 1980 in which terrorists killed 2-and-a-half-year-old Eyal Gluska.
The group, which has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the course of the eight year civil war was recently seen entering the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus after being retaken by troops loyal to Assad.
In response to the Shin Bet announcement, Barkat said, “Our Shin Bet is one of the finest organizations in the world. I was briefed on the threat the entire time. When the Shin Bet is involved and the police are on ground, I can trust them and sleep quietly and safely.”
Additional suspects were later arrested allowing for the suspicions to be verified and further intelligence was added regarding the cell’s activity.
“The arrest of the suspects thwarted significant terrorist activity that the infrastructure sought to advance,” the Shin Bet said.
While the indictment against Rashdah remains under gag order, according to information cleared for publication, Rashdah and two other PFLP members arrested in the affair were indicted on Sunday May 27th.