In TA suspect’s hometown, many condemn attack, but see radicalization of youth growing

Nashat Milhem’s relative: No signs he was affiliated with ISIS.

AHMAD MILHEM, a member of the Arara Local Council and a distant relative of the TA shooting suspect, speaks to ‘The Jerusalem Post’ yesterday. (photo credit: Ariel Ben Solomon)
AHMAD MILHEM, a member of the Arara Local Council and a distant relative of the TA shooting suspect, speaks to ‘The Jerusalem Post’ yesterday.
(photo credit: Ariel Ben Solomon)
Residents of the northern Arab village of Arara, hometown of suspected terrorist Nashat Milhem, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that they condemn the attack carried out in Tel Aviv on Friday, but see local youth as susceptible to radical influences.
“The question is if he is Islamic State, but there are no signs,” said Ahmad Milhem, a distant relative of Nashat Milhem and a member of the Arara Local Council.
There were no signs that Nashat Milhem became an Islamist, Ahmad Milhem, who often goes by the nickname Abu Anas, said, adding that he has been under psychiatric treatment since around 2007. This incident was surprising to the family and left it in an uneasy situation, he said.
Abu Anas said he was chosen by the family to speak to the press and was continually interrupted by phone calls and visiting journalists throughout the day. Abu Anas knew Nashat Milhem and said he was quick to get angry and irritable.
The suspect’s brother, Jaudat Milhem, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack, but Abu Anas dismissed any notion that he was involved and said that he was not in close contact with his brother.
Jaudat “would come over for coffee and then return to the mosque to study and pray,” said Abu Anas, adding that he was part of a quietest Salafi group called Dawa, spending almost all of his time in Islamic study and pray.
Jaudat was largely cut off from the family, added Abu Anas.
Abu Anas went on to discuss what he called the dire problem of violence and the frequent shootings within the Arab sector.
Nashat Milhem was part of “the tens of thousands of Arab youth unemployed and without anything to do,” he continued.
Milhem could not hold a stable job and jumped from one temporary job to another.
Abu Anas sought to link the terrorist attack to endemic violence in the sector and the lack of government effort in getting guns off the streets. The murder weapon allegedly belonged to the suspect’s father, who had the weapon for more than 20 years and worked in security.
“The police don’t do anything,” Abu Anas said, arguing that most of the weapons loose in the Arab sector originate in the army.
The Post contacted the Arara municipality and was told that it did not want to add anything to the statement that it had released, condemning the shooting attack.
The council had said the attack was by one man and does not represent the residents of the village.
Abu Anas showed slight displeasure with the municipality, saying it did not offer enough help to the distraught family.
In a Kebab fast food joint on a main street of the town, one youth who refused to give his name said the victims of the shooting attack “deserved it.”
“They kill our children,” he angrily declared, adding that the government persecutes Palestinians.
Another resident, appearing to be in his 50s or 60s, told the Post that “everyone condemns it. Nobody supports it."
“I work with Jews,” and this killing is not good for us or for them, he said.
He also raised the issue of unemployed youth without anything to do and said a solution needs to be found. “Weapons can be bought like cigarettes,” he said.
The resident complained that half the town did not have electricity or a proper certificate of occupancy for their home.
He added, however, that these things are “no justification to kill.”
Asked if he thought Nashat Milhem could have been radicalized by Islamic State videos online, he replied that this was doubtful.
“Everyone is watching Islamic State videos, but they do not kill,” he said.