(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Three Jerusalem Arabs have been charged with planning a series of terrorist attacks in the city, including the assassination of Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, a suicide bombing and a shooting attack near the Western Wall, security officials said Sunday.
The suspects, who were arrested two weeks ago, were charged Friday in a Jerusalem court with establishing contacts with a foreign agent, conspiring to assist an enemy in time of war, and aiding a terrorist group.
A gag order imposed on the case was lifted on Sunday evening.
According to the indictment, late last year Mamoun Abu Tir and Atallah Abu Tir, both 19 and from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Umm Tuba, decided to set up a terrorist cell.
Mamoun Abu Tir allegedly corresponded via the Internet with an Islamic Jihad operative from Algeria, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said.
The Algerian sent Mamoun Abu Tir instructions on preparing explosives, and in September 2007, connected him with an Islamic Jihad agent in the Gaza Strip, according to the charge sheet.
Mamoun Abu Tir allegedly discussed attacks on various individuals, including the mayor of Jerusalem, and plans for a shooting attack at the Mughrabi Gate leading to the Temple Mount.
The suspects originally considered bringing a suicide bomber from Hebron to Beersheba, but eventually decided to carry out an attack in Jerusalem instead, according to security officials.
The charge sheet says the Islamic Jihad member in Gaza offered to bring a suicide bomber to the security barrier on the outskirts of Jerusalem where the suspects would pick him up.
The men were arrested before they were able to enact their plans, the indictment states.
The third Arab resident of Jerusalem apprehended is suspected of actively supporting the plot.
Lupolianski said Sunday the foiled assassination plot would not damage the coexistence between residents of the capital.
"I will not desist and I will not capitulate to threats from extremists working to hurt my activity for Jerusalem and its residents," he said in a statement.
Security around Lupolianski has never been as tight as it was under former Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert.