Why it took law enforcement 3 years to arrest Palestinian-ISIS killer

Officials slammed law enforcement for failing to see the evidence against the murderer in their custody.

 Chief of police Kobi Shabtai  tesitfies before the Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Jerusalem, on April 11, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Chief of police Kobi Shabtai tesitfies before the Meron Disaster Inquiry Committee, in Jerusalem, on April 11, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

A Palestinian associated with ISIS has been arrested for three murders and one attempted murder. Two murders occurred in 2019, but were only recently solved, the police announced on Thursday.

Wasim a-Sayed, 34, from Hebron, was arrested on March 22 as part of the investigation into the recent murder of Moldovan migrant worker Ivan Tarnovski in Jerusalem.

But, bizarrely, he had been in administrative detention for almost three years because of his ISIS connection before his mid-March release. Even the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had no clue that he could be tied to the earlier murders.

He was being held on grounds of incitement and because it was thought he might become more dangerous.

It was only through studying the murder of Tarnovski that police found common patterns 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.

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. (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. (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

This means that Sayed went on a murder spree in 2019, was arrested for other reasons and immediately returned to his murder spree upon his release from detention.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted congratulations to the 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,” he added.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev also praised the ingenuity of the Shin Bet and police in the face of a complex case.

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

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

Some family members of the victims were also incensed that it had taken so long to solve the murders.

Responding, law enforcement has pointed out that hundreds of Palestinians may be in administrative detention at any one time with many of them held for general incitement, and not because of any concrete evidence of a past violent crime.

Many more Palestinians, sometimes thousands 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 by financial gain.

Criminal financial motives were suspected because the killer stole money from the locked Kaduri home.

It was only after catching Sayed illegally infiltrating west Jerusalem through the separation barrier that police questioned him sufficiently to connect him to the Tarnovski murder and to see similarities to the earlier incidents.

Law enforcement was able to compare video footage of the two incidents and, even without being able to get a perfect facial recognition identification, found enough incriminating physical points to lead to a breakthrough.

Law enforcement also connected shoes in Sayed’s residence to the Kaduri murders.

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

Sayed has apparently reenacted each of the crimes for law enforcement, and is expected to be indicted soon.