Tuesday, December 27, 2022

27-Dec-22: Suspect held in November's twin Jerusalem Arab-on-Israeli bombings

The two Israelis murdered in the twin bombing attacks last month

The authorities here cleared for publication earlier today that a suspect in the November 23, 2022 twin-bombings in Jerusalem ["23-Nov-22: In Jerusalem, twin bomb blasts put terror in the spotlight again"] has been in the hands of Israeli law enforcement officials for a month. He was detained by Israeli security forces six days after those lethal attacks on innocent commuters standing at bus-stops.

The news came in the form of a statement issued jointly by Israel Police and the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service.

According to one report, ["Israel announces arrest last month of Jerusalem bombing suspect", i24NEWS, today], the suspected bomber is a mechanical engineer, Aslam Faroh, 26, described as "an Israeli resident who was living in Kafr 'Aqab in east Jerusalem and Ramallah in the West Bank." (His name is spelled in different ways in English reports.)

He had fled the scene of the morning rush-hour attacks on a motorbike, and was hiding out in a cave in the Judean desert. A search there turned up an additional explosive device secreted in the cave.

The theory is he acted alone "after planning the attack for an extended period of time."

A statement naming him Froukh and attributed to the Shin Bet says the attacker acted alone "out of Salafi-jihadi ideology identified with the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization" and that he used how-to guides viewable on the Internet to learn to make the bombs used in the attack.

A chilling postscript reports something we had not known earlier;
"Israeli police also revealed that a third explosive device had been found at the bus stop where the first bombing occurred. A mechanical failure prevented its detonation, which had been timed to take place thirty minutes after the initial explosion."
A delayed explosion would indicate that the bomber intended to inflict injuries and death on rescue workers and police at the scene.

Two Israelis were killed in the bombings. Aryeh Shechopek, a 16-year-old student, died at the scene of the earlier of the two explosions at a bustling bus stop (the "trampiada") at the entrance to Jerusalem on Highway One. A second victim, Tadasa Tashume Ben Ma'ada, 50, died three days later in hospital from injuries suffered in the same attack. Some twenty other people suffered injuries.

A Times of Israel report ["Arab Israeli with Islamic State ties arrested for bombings at Jerusalem bus stops"], where his name is rendered as Eslam Froukh, says
"Security forces located the site [near Ramallah] where Froukh allegedly tested his explosive devices. The Shin Bet said troops seized explosive materials, a makeshift sub-machine gun and a primed bomb similar to the ones used in the Jerusalem attack. The agency said it suspected Froukh planned to commit another attack using the explosive device and the weapon. Several other suspects were arrested in the days following the bombing, but were all released. Prosecutors are expected to file an indictment against Froukh in the coming days, which will include murder and other terror charges."
Froukh was reportedly unknown to security authorities until now. 

His posts on social media (quoted here) show that his engineering studies were done at the well-regarded Azrieli College of Engineering in Jerusalem. Azrieli's comprehensive website includes an Arabic language edition reflecting its engagement with Arab students. A 2017 article ("Fulfilling Arab Startup Dreams in Jerusalem") sheds light on Azrieli's efforts to bring young Arab professionals into Israel's start-up culture.

ISIS connection?

An analysis published by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) gives some context to the claim that this terrorist was aligned with the jihadists of the Islamic State. Though Israel has never been the site of much ISIS activity, its terrorists have laid claim to a handful of attacks over the years. 

Two terror attacks in late March 2022 were perpetrated by ISIS supporters. An attack involving a car-ramming and stabbings in Beer Sheba, killing four Israeli civilians and was perpetrated by Muhammad Abu Al-Qi'an who had been in prison for trying to join ISIS in Syria. A shooting in the Israeli city of Hadera killed two border guards and injured twelve Israelis and was carried out by cousins Ayman and Ibrahim Ighbariyeh, the latter of whom had also tried to travel to Syria to join ISIS. ISIS sources threatened in the wake of these killings that "the unbelieving Jews should know that our promises [to attack them] will reach them sooner or later, Allah willing."[7]

MEMRI suggested in May 2022 that ISIS has gone through a shift in focus
and now sees masterminding attacks against Israel as a greater priority than it previously did. However, it is more likely that the perpetrators of these recent attacks acted on their own and that ISIS leadership is not facilitating operations against Israel, other than inciting to them periodically, generally when tensions are high between Israel and Palestinian factions. Thus, it seems probable that ISIS... attacks against Israel will remain at a minimum. At the same time, there are still ISIS supporters living in Israel and the Palestinian territories, who may decide, under the influence of ISIS propaganda, to instigate attacks in the name of the jihadi organization, which views Israelis and Jews as enemies whom it is meritorious to target, provided that the attack is carried out for the sake of Allah and not out of nationalistic motives. [Quoted from The Evolution Of Islamic State (ISIS) Views On Attacking The State Of Israel, May 20, 2022]

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