'Failed attack points to inexperienced terrorists'

Expert says large amount of explosives may indicate existing terror group is behind attack; 4 km of Jerusalem's security fence remain unbuilt.

security fence protest  248 (photo credit: AP)
security fence protest 248
(photo credit: AP)
Inexperienced terrorists sent by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or another established terror organization could be behind Saturday's failed car bomb attack on a Haifa mall, an expert on jihadi organizations said on Sunday. Little concrete information emerged from under the cover of the blanket media ban imposed on efforts by law enforcement agencies to track down Saturday's failed car bombers, but questions are being raised over how car bomb was able to make its way to the scene without apparent difficulties. "It is difficult to identify the fingerprints of a certain organization in this attack," said Dr. Reuven Paz, founder and director of the Project for the Research of Islamist Movements at Herzliya's Interdisciplinary Center. "The large amount of explosives could indicate that an existing terror organization [such as] Hamas or Islamic Jihad is behind the bomb, but the error which occurred in the device could possibly show that the car bomb was prepared by people who lacked operational experience," Paz added, stressing that the comments were speculative at this stage. Police have already announced that the Subaru vehicle used in the attack was registered to a woman from Jerusalem, adding that the car was stolen by the terrorists. A four kilometer gap in the security fence around the capital remains unbuilt. The Ministry of Defense said last month it planned to close the gap by the first half of 2009. Could the terrorists have exploited that hole? The West Bank security fence is now 620 kilometers long, with 130 kilometers still unbuilt due to a series of petitions by Palestinians challenging the route of the fence. This is not the first time terrorists have attempted to set off a car bomb within Israel. In 1994, eight Israelis were killed in a Hamas car bomb which targeted a bus in Afula. In 2002 a massive car bomb carrying 650 kilograms of explosives was smuggled from the West Bank into northern Israel, before it was pounced on by counter-terrorism officers. Israeli officials said then that had the attack succeeded, the ensuing carnage would have altered the face of the Middle East. Two years before that, in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, two Israelis lost their lives in a car bomb attack carried out by Islamic Jihad. Two more civilians died when a car bomb was set off next to a bus in Hadera in the same year. That attack injured 60 people. Several more car bombs were sent into Israel during that time, resulting in dozens of injuries. The Shin and the IDF foiled a large car bomb plot, aimed at central Israel and originating in the West Bank, during Pesah of 2007.