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Monday, May 24, 2004

B"H, Major Jerusalem Attack Thwarted

115 Palestinian Arab Suicide Attacks in 3.5 years,
yet 80%+ have been thwarted
Israeli security officials thwarted a major Palestinian suicide bombing that was planned to take place last week in Jerusalem, police announced Monday.

The bombing, which was slated to take place last Sunday night or Monday morning in Jerusalem's haredi Meah Shearim neighborhood, was thwarted after police and the Shin Bet received pinpoint intelligence information late last Sunday that Hamas was planning on carrying out an imminent bombing in the city.

Following the red alert, police had set up spot checks at the northern entrances to Jerusalem and carried out a series of other security measures that night in a last-ditch effort to intercept the bomber and thwart the planned attack.

Concomitantly, acting on further intelligence information provided by the shin Bet, Jerusalem border police arrested an 38-year-old Arab resident of the Old City, Hussam Nabulsi, that very night on suspicion of involvement in the planned attack.

During his interrogation, Nabulsi, who carries an Israeli id card, told the Shin Bet that he was supposed to receive a 15-20 kilogram bomb and pass it on to the intended Palestinian bomber, who was slated to come to Jerusalem from the West Bank city of Nablus.

Police said that Nabulsi confessed that he was enlisted in the Hamas operation by his Palestinian cousin, Said Tabanja, who himself comes from Nablus, a city long considered a hotbed of Palestinian terrorism.

36 hours later, IDF forces operating in Nablus arrested Tabanja.

During his interrogation, Tabanja said that he had enlisted his Jerusalem cousin for the planned bombing on orders of the head of the Hamas in Nablus, Said Qutab, police said. In the wake of newly acquired information, two other Palestinian accomplices were arrested in the northern West Bank city.

Then, this past weekend a major breakthrough came in the investigation.

Two Palestinian residents of Nablus, Amin Surchagi and Allah Maurauf, who had been residing of late in northern Jerusalem, were arrested by police on Saturday on suspicion of involvement in the planned bombing, police said.

During their interrogation, the two, who are fruit and vegetable merchants, told police that they had smuggled the bomb intended to be used in the Jerusalem attack inside a vegetable cart last Sunday. The two told their interrogators that the bomb was intended to be used by a suicide bomber, but in case the bomber was arrested, the device could also be operated by afar via a cellular phone, police said.

When the bomb had reached northern Jerusalem last Sunday, the two men contacted Nabulsi in an effort to give it to him, but the massive police activity in the area thwarted their efforts. Realizing the hand-off was not going according to plan, the two men then hid the bomb that night in one of their homes in the A-Ram village, on the border with Jerusalem.

After a meeting the next day with the chief Hamas operator in Nablus failed to produce a viable alternate plan, the men then concealed the bomb near Jerusalem's northern Beit Hanina neighborhood.

After their arrest this weekend, the two men led police and the Shin Bet to the place where they hid the bomb, police said. A bag, packed with the 15 kilo bomb, was found at the site, and safely detonated by police sappers.

In a bizarre twist to the plan, Qutab, the Hamas bomber who planned the bombing in Nablus, was killed Sunday night with two other men in a explosion in Nablus. The cause of the blast remains unclear, police said.

The intended bomber, however, remains at large.

Security officials estimate that upwards of 80% of all planned Palestinian bombing are actually thwarted by Israel. There have been 115 Palestinians suicide bombing over the last three and a half years of violence.
C'mon, JPost . . . "violence"?

Let's call a war, a WAR.