Thursday, April 26, 2018

26-Apr-18: Terrorist who was intercepted trying to bomb the Jerusalem Light Rail is convicted

Jerusalem Light Rail (illustrative)
Jerusalem's mass-transit Light Rail system is one of the many settings in which, in the most ordinary of ways, Israeli Jews and Arabs - secular, religious, Haredi - come into close and entirely unremarkable contact daily. The popular tram system provides cheap and efficient commuter transport for all parts of Jerusalem's varied society, including Jerusalem's Arab quarters.

Which we think is precisely why it's been such an inviting target for terrorists with anti-Israel mayhem on their minds.

A frustrated, and little-reported, terrorist attack on the Light Rail two summers ago resulted in a conviction in Jerusalem District Court today. (There's very little coverage, at least so far, in any news channels of today's conviction.)

A Palestinian Arab student from Beit Ila, near Hebron, was stopped on July 15, 2016 while equipped with lethal weapons, en route to carry out a cold-blooded revenge attack on commuters. Had he succeeded, there's no doubt there would have been many Arabs among the victims, perhaps even Arabs from his own town.

Ali Abu Hassan, 20 years old at the time of the crime, was convicted today of attempted murder.

Times of Israel says the court found that the accused “planned to carry out a mass terror attack”. He had approached the city via the Arab community of Sur Baher (often written Tsur Baher) on Jerusalem's south side, intending to wreak “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount”.

The three pipe bombs in his possession were tied together to form a single large and powerful explosive that, as an added feature, was covered with nails and screws that had been dipped in rat poison. He also had two knives and a cell-phone in his bag.

The Light Rail is a constant microcosm of Jerusalem's varied
demographics [Image Source: Sliman Khader | Flash90
A Ynet report published on August 2, 2016 shortly after his arrest says the civil engineering student at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron made and tested the bombs himself, setting off explosives in open areas in and around Hebron.

Evidently appreciating the risk to his own life, he left a will with a friend before setting out to commit the planned murders:
On July 17, near 9am, Abu Hassan arrived at the Jaffa Center stop, where he was observing passersby. It was then that he was spotted by a vigilant security guard who asked Abu Hassan to open his bag for inspection. The terrorist ignored the request, which led the security guard to restrain him by force while another guard took the bag.
The Jerusalem Post reported at about the same time that
during Ramadan in the summer of 2016, after seeing news websites and Facebook posts showing Jews entering the Temple Mount complex, he made up his mind to attack, kill Jews and become a martyr. According to a joint police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation, Abu Hassan entered Israeli territory the day before the attempted attack through nearby Wadi Sur Bahir, and then changed his clothes into sportswear “to blend into the population,” police said. “The next day, during the early morning, he prayed in a mosque nearby, boarded a bus in Talpiot reaching the city center, and began to walk along the railway tracks on Jaffa Road until reaching the intersection of Jaffa and King George streets,” police said. “When he arrived at the light rail stop at Jaffa station, he began to explore the surroundings in order to find a place for the attack.” The joint investigation determined that Abu Hassan then observed the station from a nearby restaurant, and decided to target it after seeing many people boarding and exiting the train. Noting the suspect’s suspicious behavior, security guards stationed nearby questioned him and discovered he had three pipe bombs in his bag. They immediately placed him under arrest, and cleared the area of civilians... The light rail was shut down for over an hour, until the bombs were neutralized and the area cleared.
We can't help noticing that the spot to which this homicidal zealot gravitated - Jaffa Road where it intersects with King George V Avenue - is precisely where Ahlam Tamimi brought her human bomb in August 2001 when she attacked and destroyed the Sbarro pizzeria which once stood at that corner (a Ne'eman bakery/cafe is there now.) Our daughter Malki and 14 other innocent victims were murdered in that attack; a sixteenth victim remains unconscious all these years later.

We owe great gratitude to the constant vigilance of Israel's security personnel.

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