“The coming year will be crucial to achieving the two-State solution,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said in his remarks to the UN General Assembly’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. Mr. Eliasson said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are working hard towards a peaceful, comprehensive settlement of all permanent status issues. [From the UN website]Some hours ago, here in the mixed Jewish/Arab city of Jerusalem, the security authorities announced the thwarting of a major terror plot involving Al Qaeda, human bombs, exploding trucks, East Jerusalem Arabs, and some of the best-known and most-prominent landmarks in the city. It appears arrests were already made some weeks ago, but a court-imposed gag order prevented them being reported until now.
Yes, it was stopped before it happened. But there's something breathtakingly disturbing about how threats on such a vast scale can (as it appears) evolve right under our noses even as the trams, buses, hospitals, schools, cafes and sidewalks of our country's capital are shared by people with different outlooks and expectations in life. None of them, for the benefit of readers unfamiliar with life in Jerusalem, walk around with the word "terrorist" branded on their foreheads. That's a reality that defines a large part of what a society needs to do to keep itself and its children safe.
Yakov Lappin, writing a headline-grabbing report on the Jerusalem Post website, says the Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency, went public earlier today with the news that it had arrested three Palestinian Arabs who had been recruited from by an al-Qaida terrorist called Al-Sham operating from Gaza and reporting directly to the Egyptian head of Al Qaida central, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri whose head carries a $25 million reward from Washington as Bin Laden's successor.
What brought together this hideous alliance is a plan to execute a string of murders by large-scale bombing and shooting attacks. The three Arab men were recruited separately from each another, with the intention of operating as three separate terrorist cells. The suspects:
- Iyad Khalil Abusara, 23, from Ras Hamis, a Jerusalem neighbourhood, carries an Israeli ID card. He was to orchestrate several terrorist outrages. One was a planned attack on a Jerusalem to Ma'ale Adumim bus in which the wheels would be shot out, causing the vehicle to overturn and enabling gang members to gun down passengers at close range, and then kill the emergency responders as they arrived. In addition, simultaneous human-bomb and truck-bomb attacks on the Jerusalem Convention Center (Israelis know it better as Binyanei Ha'uma) and on the US Embassy's seaside office building on Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Street.
- Rubin Abu-Nagma, a male also from Jerusalem, confessed to being part of a plan to kidnap an IDF soldier at Jerusalem's busy Central Bus Station, and to bomb a residential building in the mixed Jewish/Arab Abu Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem; the targeted building is, naturally, home to Jewish families.
- Ala Anam, an incomplete name with few identifying particulars at this stage. From the context, it appears he too is from Jerusalem.
Shin Bet officials say that the method of recruitment - through Facebook, Skype and, in one case, encrypted communication software on the Internet - is nothing out of the ordinary. Most global jihad groups operating in the Middle East use the same or similar methods: they scour the Internet to search for candidates, issue orders and learn methods of operation. This is followed by a meeting with the handlers and a brief training period before carrying out the plan. Even though many of these attempts fail, or are prevented by the intelligence agencies of various countries, there have been quite a few instances of success. [Haaretz, today]The Gaza stronghold of the Hamas terrorist regime, from where the co-ordination and overall planning was done, also played an important enabling role. What do its terror-addicted thugs say, you ask? According to Reuters:
"Hamas Islamists governing Gaza rejected the spy agency's account as "silly fabrications", saying it was an attempt to justify Israeli military strikes in the territory... Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri fired back by accusing Israel of seeking a "pretext" for its attacks in Gaza... Facebook is not a Hamas network." [NYTimes]Certain voices in the news media are fond of asserting that the desire of the Palestinian Arab side to carry out terrorist actions of the kind we saw a decade ago has somehow diminished. This is nonsense of a very dangerous kind. The security barrier has played a key role in reducing the number and severity of terrorist attacks on Israelis and so too has the vigilance of the various Israeli security agencies. As for a reduced desire to see dead and maimed Jews? Our impression is that this remains as potent among parts of the Arab world as it ever was, even while the current focus on International Solidarity gets so much of the media's attention.
Seems likely that we will be hearing more about today's disclosures.