Report: US official downplays 'Qaida plot to bomb embassy'

American official calls cell's plans to attack US mission "aspirational," although does not rule out possibility of danger.

January 24, 2014 06:38
2 minute read.
US embassy

US Embassy in Tel Aviv.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


A US official downplayed on Thursday an announcement by the Shin Bet that it had uncovered an al-Qaida plot to attack the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, calling the cell’s plans “aspirational.”

Nevertheless, the official did not rule out the possibility of danger.

On Wednesday, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said it had arrested three Arab suspects – two from east Jerusalem and one from Jenin – who were preparing to bomb targets in Israel, including the embassy and the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

“The detainee probably said it, but I don’t think we give a lot of credence to that. We don't have anything to prove it,” AFP quoted the unnamed official as saying.

While the United States was taking the allegations seriously, it had not yet confirmed any of the details, according to the official.

“We can’t corroborate that; we probably don’t,” the official was quoted as saying. “We see it as what we would call an aspirational plot. It does not mean that it is not dangerous, it does not mean that it is not something we and Israel take seriously.”

The Shin Bet identified the suspects in custody as Khalil Abu Sara, Ala Anam and Rubin Abu Nagma. They allegedly had been recruited by al-Qaida operative Ariv Al-Sham in Gaza.

The security agency said Abu Sara and Abu Nagma were planning to provide explosive vests to foreign terrorists posing as Russian tourists for attacks on the Jerusalem International Convention Center and the US Embassy. It said they also were planning to kidnap a soldier and attack an Israeli bus in the West Bank.

The two, who could travel freely in Israel because of their Jerusalem residency, were recruited via Facebook and Skype, the Shin Bet said in a statement, which added that Abu Sara had been arrested as he was preparing to travel to Syria via Turkey to undergo weapons training.

The Shin Bet said Anam, from Jenin, was in custody on suspicion of planning to set up an al-Qaida cell in his area. Two of the detainees were arrested last month and the third this month, it said.

Following the Wednesday announcement, US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said that Washington had been in contact with Israel “regarding these threats.”

“The US Embassy was not just the target, but other targets were mentioned, I believe,” she said.

Harf added that the US had no plans to evacuate the mission.

“We obviously don't discuss all of our security measures,” she said.

Yaakov Lappin and Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

idf hebron
August 22, 2014
Palestinians throw Molotov cocktail at IDF checkpoint in Hebron