Israeli Arab charged with al-Qaida plot

Former Beersheba student allegedly planned to dispatch suicide bomber to Beersheba bus station.

state-religion survey 224 (photo credit: )
state-religion survey 224
(photo credit: )
In the latest sign of growing al-Qaida influence in Israel, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police have arrested a Beduin from the southern town of Tel Sheva suspected of conspiring with a Gaza-based agent to carry out terror attacks in Israel. The arrest took place on July 29, but was only released for publication on Friday. According to an indictment filed in Beersheba, Khaled Abu Rakayek, 23, a former student of the Technological College in Beersheba, allegedly tried to set up a terror cell to carry out suicide bombings inside Israel. Abu Rakayek allegedly became interested in radical Islam in 2002, and during his college studies started surfing Internet sites affiliated with terror organizations, including al-Qaida and the Global Jihad movement. While online, the Shin Bet said that Abu Rakayek made contact with an al-Qaida operative in Gaza, named on the charge sheet as Abu Balal, and the two discussed potential terror attacks and targets. Abu Rakayek is said to have downloaded films documenting attacks perpetrated by Global Jihad elements. In 2004, Abu Rakayek allegedly decided to set up a terror cell to plan and perpetrate suicide attacks inside Israel, and downloaded instructional videos on preparing bomb belts. At one stage, he allegedly asked a fellow student at the college if he wanted to join the terror cell and carry out a suicide bombing at the Beersheba Central Bus Station. The fellow student turned down the request. In 2006, Abu Rakayek allegedly planned to make a bomb, and plant it east of Tel Sheva at a location frequented by IDF jeeps. This plan was never carried out. The suspect's lawyer, Samir Abu Abde, said Abu Rakayek denied the charges against him. Abu Abde claimed that his client came from a good family that was loyal to Israel. Early last month, two Beduin living in Rahat were indicted for passing information to al-Qaida on strategic sites in Israel, including IDF bases, skyscrapers and Ben-Gurion Airport. Later in July, police and the Shin Bet announced the arrest of six al-Qaida-linked Israeli Arabs charged, inter alia, with plotting to shoot down US President George W. Bush's helicopter earlier this year. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.