Terror cell suspected of planning shooting attack on soldiers arrested

The Shin Bet has announced the arrest of an Islamic Movement terror cell suspected of planning shooting attacks against IDF soldiers.

Three Israeli-Arab men had allegedly began plotting to carry out shooting attacks against soldiers in the Negev desert region, in November 2015, in response to Israel’s decision to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

The Shin Bet said that the group conducted reconnaissance trips to find the best possible location for an attack, purchasing a Carlo-style improvised submachine gun as well as electronic transmitters to set off explosives from afar.

Two of the suspects – Muhammad Masri of Beersheba and Abdullah Abu Ayyash of Kuseife – were arrested in December 2016. The third member, Mahmoud Luisi of Qalansawe, was arrested in March 2017 when he travelled back to Israel from Turkey. The Shin Bet statement says that Luisi met with Majid Hassan Rajab Abu Qatish in Turkey, a senior member of Hamas, and allegedly asked him for funding and training.

Indictments have been filed against the three suspects.

The interrogations of the three men also led to the arrest of Fares al-Omari, a senior member of the Islamic Movement who allegedly gave the three men the official go-ahead to carry out their planned attack, as well as two unnamed men from the Galilee suspected of illegally selling weapons.

Israel outlawed the Northern Branch of the Islamic movement in November for inciting dangerous violence against the state and seeking its destruction in order to replace it with an Islamist caliphate.

The Southern Branch of the Islamic movement is represented in the Knesset by three MKs in the Joint (Arab) List faction.