TEL AVIV – Three Arab Israeli men were indicted on Monday for plotting to carry out a suicide attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the name of the Islamic State terror group, the Shin Bet security agency said.
The suspects, 20-year-olds Muhammad Mas’ud Muhammad Jabarin and Imad Lutfi Muhammad Jabarin, and a third who is a minor, came from the Arab Israeli village of Umm el-Fahm in the country’s north. They were arrested last month in a joint operation by the Shin Bet and the police.
The suspects planned to carry out a shooting attack on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, similar to one conducted in July that killed two Israel Police officers. All of the three terrorists behind that attack were also named Muhammad Jabarin and hailed from Umm el-Fahm.
The terror attack led to weeks of violent riots after Israel placed metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, with Muslims seeing the move as a violation of Jerusalem’s status quo.
According to the indictment, the Jabarins began adhering to the teachings of the Islamic State terrorist group in 2014. They also watched video content released by the terror group online. In late 2017, they swore allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the indictment said.
Initially, they wanted to join IS in Syria, but when they found they couldn’t reach Syria they decided to carry out suicide attacks against “infidels” in Israel. They discussed a vehicular attack using a truck one of them drives for work. They also talked about carrying out an attack on Christians in Nazareth during Christmas. The idea of carrying out a suicide attack on churches and synagogues also arose.
The indictment says that in the end the cell settled on attacking the Temple Mount and a synagogue in Tel Aviv where one of them used to work. They also decided to carry out an attack on a central Israeli city where few Muslims lived.
By the time they were arrested they had managed to raise some $4,000 for the purchase of weapons and explosives.
“The terror attack was prevented thanks to accurate intelligence that allowed for the arrest of the cell members before they could succeed in acquiring weapons and fulfilling their plans,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
“The Shin Bet considers Israelis who support the Islamic State terrorist organization as a serious threat, especially those who maintain contacts with the organization’s activists and operate under the auspices of the organization in the territory of the State of Israel,” the statement said.
Separately on Monday, Valentin Mazalevski, a convert to Islam originally from Belarus, was sentenced by a Nazareth court to three years in jail for attempting to travel to Syria to join IS.
According to the Shin Bet, around 60 Arab Israelis have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight alongside terror groups including IS. Some were killed and fewer than ten were deported home after being caught by Turkish authorities while trying to cross the border.
In August, the Ministry of Interior announced it would revoke the citizenship of 19 Arab Israelis who traveled to Syria or Iraq to join IS.