Palestinian-ISIS three-time murderer indicted 3 years after crime

He had been in an extended period of almost three years of administrative detention regarding his ISIS connection until his mid-March release.

Israeli forces seen outside the building where two  people was found dead at an apartment, at Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem, on January 13, 2019. (photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)
Israeli forces seen outside the building where two people was found dead at an apartment, at Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem, on January 13, 2019.
(photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

A Palestinian associated with ISIS was indicted on Monday in the Jerusalem District Court for three murders, an attempted murder and terrorism. His attacks on three victims date back to 2019, but were only solved recently.

Last week, the Israel Police announced that it had cracked the old cases and that the alleged murderer was Wasim a-Sayed, 34, from Hebron, who was only arrested on March 22 as part of the investigation into the murder of Moldovan migrant worker Ivan Tarnovski in Jerusalem.

According to the indictment, Sayed joined and swore loyalty to ISIS as far back as 2014.

Yet it was not until January 8, 2019, that he entered Israel armed with two knives with the goal of murdering Jews.

What is most bizarre about the case is that he had been in administrative detention for an extended period of almost three years regarding his ISIS connection until his mid-March release. Even the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had no clue that he could be tied to the earlier murders.

View of the construction site of 'Mechir Lamishtaken' at Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem on January 28, 2019. (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)View of the construction site of 'Mechir Lamishtaken' at Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem on January 28, 2019. (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Rather, he was being held over general concerns of incitement and that he might become more dangerous in the future.

It was only after studying the more recent murder of Tarnovski that common patterns began to be noticed with the earlier attempted murder of teenager Hadar Betzalel in January 2019, and of the murders of elderly couple Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri in their Armon Hanatziv Jerusalem apartment that same month.

According to the indictment, Sayed tried to kill Betzalel, but the victim’s screaming after he stabbed her led him to flee before he could finish her off. His initial attack missed her vital organs.

With the Kaduris, the indictment stated that Sayed followed Yehuda into his apartment from his parking spot and saw that he left to return to his car to get more groceries, including leaving the apartment door unlocked.

Sayed then allegedly entered, stabbed Tamar to death and hid temporarily until Yehuda returned, at which time he stabbed him to death as well.

In the case of Tarnovski, Sayed allegedly entered his apartment after finding the door unlocked and stabbed Tarnovski while he was lying in bed.

In addition, Sayed stole thousands of shekels worth of cash and rings.

All of this means that if guilty, Sayed went on an aspiring murder spree in 2019, was arrested, and then immediately returned to his murder spree upon his release last month.

REACTIONS TO the news last week were mixed.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted congratulations to the Israel Police and the Shin Bet, saying they succeeded in seizing “the abominable murderer of the couple Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri, who were murdered three years ago in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem.

“We will pursue anyone who harms the citizens of Israel and bring them to justice – anytime, at any hour, anywhere,” Gantz said.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev also viewed cracking the case as a sign of the Shin Bet and law enforcement’s ingenuity in the face of a complex case.

But other officials slammed law enforcement for failing to see the evidence and the murderer under their noses in custody.

Likud MK Shlomo Karhi even called for an independent probe of the failure by the police and Shin Bet to grasp their mistake earlier.

Some family members of the prior victims were also incensed that it had taken so long to solve the cases, especially when the alleged murderer had been in custody all along.

Law enforcement responded by pointing out that hundreds of Palestinians might be in administrative detention at a time, with many of them held for general incitement concerns, and not because of any concrete evidence of a past violent crime.

Many more Palestinians, sometimes thousands in a year, are indicted for different levels of violent crimes.

According to law enforcement, Sayed did not fit into their matrix of identifying factors for the 2019 crimes based on what they knew at the time, and only the new information from the Tarnovski murder changed that.

When the Kaduris were killed, the police even arrested some of their family members as potential suspects motivated for financial reasons.

For example, the Kaduri murders at the time were believed to be carried out for criminal purposes because their residence had been locked and the killer stole money from them.

It was only after catching Sayed illegally crossing through a border fence separating the east and west sides of Jerusalem that police questioned him sufficiently to connect him to the Tarnovski murder and to see similarities to the earlier incidents.

Investigators were able to compare video footage of the two incidents and, even without being able to get a perfect facial recognition identification, found enough common physical points to lead to a breakthrough.

Law enforcement also found shoes in Sayed’s residence that could be tied to the Kaduri murders.

In addition, the Kaduris and Tarnovski were all executed in a brutal ISIS-style manner, by slitting their throats.

Sayed eventually allegedly reenacted each of the crimes of which he is accused by law enforcement.