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How a Hamas suicide plot was thwarted

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

JERUSALEM Israel has foiled a Hamas suicide bombing in this city.

Israeli officials said Hamas's network in the northern West Bank city of Nablus sent a suicide bomber to blow himself up in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim neighborhood on May 16. They said a 20 kilogram-bomb was sent from Nablus for the attack in Jerusalem.

The Hamas operative was meant to enter a synagogue in Jerusalem and blow himself up, officials said. They said Israeli security forces foiled the plan in its advanced stage.

Hamas has been planning a series of major suicide attacks against Israeli civilian targets to avenge the assassination of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdul Aziz Rantisi, Middle East Newsline reported. But the insurgency group has been hampered by enhanced Israeli intelligence, a damaged operational command and dwindling finances.

Officials described an extensive Hamas cell in Jerusalem, with members in the Old City and the northern A-Ram neighborhood. The members included Jerusalem residents and Palestinians from Nablus who infiltrated Jerusalem as laborers.

Two former Nablus residents were said to have confessed to transporting the Hamas bomb in a false bottom of their vegetable cart. Officials said a suicide attacker was supposed to have detonated the bomb in Jerusalem either manually or by cellular phone.

But Hamas was unable to transport the bomb from A-Ram to Jerusalem because of the heavy presence of police and soldiers, officials said. Instead, the bomb was then moved to the nearby Beit Hanina neighborhood in northern Jerusalem.

Hamas was also said to have failed to send a suicide attacker from Nablus to Jerusalem, officials said. They said the suicide attacker has been identified by Israeli authorities, but remained at large.

"Terrorists in Samaria [northern West Bank] have recently begun to transfer the focus of their activities south toward Jerusalem and Judea as a result of the completion of the security fence in Samaria and their concomitant inability to perpetrate attacks inside Israel from there," a government statement said.

Officials said the Hamas cell in Nablus was led by Said Kutub. Kutub was killed in a bombing in Nablus on May 24 as he and his colleagues were preparing explosives, officials said.

Authorities said a Jerusalem resident, Husam Nabolsi, 38, was arrested and charged with participating in the plot. They said Nabolsi told authorites that he had been recruited to Hamas and ordered to store the bomb until a suicide bomber from Nablus was to have arrived to carry out the attack.

Israeli forces arrested the recruiter of Nabolsi in Nablus, identified as Said Tabangeh. Tabangeh was to have carried out the suicide bombing in Jerusalem. Officials said the Hamas cell also contained a Fatah operative.


Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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