Background: When good cops go bad

Investigators and intelligence specialists take the law into their own hands.

david cohen 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
david cohen 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As early as 2005, the crime syndicate led by Nahariya resident Michael Mor turned their sights against local police, embarking on a wave of terror during which a missile was fired at the local police station and in at least one instance a grenade was left strapped to the door of a police officer's house. The police officer who responded to that incident suffered hearing damage when the grenade detonated, and was among the five defendants in the Haifa courtroom Thursday. During a two-year period between 2005-2007, 40 grenades were detonated in organized-crime-related attacks in the seaside town, with three of them targeting Nahariya's mayor. Another targeted the apartment where a Central Investigative Unit detective lived with his family. According to the Justice Ministry's Police Investigative Department (PID) investigators, it was shortly after that attack, in October 2006, that a small group of veteran investigators and intelligence specialists decided to take the law into their own hands. Detectives believe that the five met and discussed their plans in advance and consulted with the sixth suspect as to how to build explosive devices. They also enlisted his assistance in acquiring what PID Investigative Branch head Alex Or said were parts not available on the open market. The timeline presented in the indictments delivered Thursday in the Haifa District Court claims that the five policemen met three hours after midnight in the Yehiam Forest, disguising their license plate numbers with electrical tape to avoid detection. They then divided into two teams, with one two-man squad deployed to place a pipe bomb under the vehicle of Mor himself, and the second three-man squad, including the officer suspected of involvement, deployed to place the second device on the windowsill of Mor's nephew. The five then allegedly returned home to their families. The bomb under the car failed to detonate due to a technical error, but the second did, damaging the building but without injuring the up-and-coming gangster. The suspects claim that this was no coincidence - they claim that they never meant to kill them, merely to scare them and set a trap for them in the hopes that the criminals would implicate themselves as they sought revenge. Ironically, investigators say, at least one of the five suspects was called to the scene of the bombing attempts as an investigator. Despite the alleged attempts to set a trap for the gangsters, it was only in June 2007 that Mor's organization was successfully broken, its members arrested, tried and sentenced for criminal activities. But if it seems that the story ends there, police - and even the country's top cop Insp.-Gen. David Cohen - are quick to point out that Mor's organization will return to the streets as soon as they are released. In some cases, for some of the members of Nahariya's gangland terror, that day may come in a mere two years.