A gag order was lifted Tuesday afternoon, allowing police to reveal that a resident of Kafr Kasim has confessed to knowingly driving a suicide bomber and his accomplice to a 2002 bombing that killed one woman and wounded dozens.
Islam Badir, 27, admitted under questioning that in March 2002, he drove a suicide bomber who blew himself up at the My Coffee Shop Cafe in Tel Aviv.
Police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigators began their pursuit of Badir in mid-August, after a police operation in Ramat Gan nabbed Ra'ad Abu Saris, 28, of Nablus. He was arrested for working illegally in Israel but, while being questioned by the Shin Bet, admitted that he accompanied suicide bomber Muhammad Salahad from Nablus to Tel Aviv. Abu Saris said that he was following directives issued by Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigade operatives in the Balata refugee camp, the group that took responsibility for the bombing.
During his questioning, he said that the two had been helped by an acquaintance from Kafr Kasim who drove them as far as Petah Tikva. The police and Shin Bet eventually identified Badir as the driver.
Badir, the investigators discovered, was currently behind bars for criminal offenses.
When questioned, he said that he drove Salahad and Abu Sarif to Petah Tikva, and said that he and Abu Sarif already knew each other, having participated in crimes together when Abu Sarif was employed illegally in Petah Tikva.
Badir said that he agreed to drive the two after Abu Sarif told him that they were planning on committing a crime in Petah Tikva. But in the course of the drive, Badir told investigators, he became suspicious as to the duo's intentions. When he pressed Abu Sarif, he said, his former crime partner admitted that he was accompanying a suicide bomber. Despite his newly-acquired knowledge, Badir dropped the two off and returned to Kafr Kasim.
After being dropped off, Abu Sarif and Salahad caught a taxi to Tel Aviv.