Six arrested in Israel for allegedly plotting attack on Bush
Men suspected of giving Al-Qaida photos of Bush's helicopter landing pad during U.S. president's Israel visit.
Israel Police and the Shin Bet Security Service have arrested six Arabs - two of them Israeli citizens and the other four Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem - with alleged links to the Al-Qaida terror network. A gag order lifted on Friday revealed that the suspects allegedly planned to attack U.S. President George W. Bush's helicopter during one of his recent visits to the region.
An indictment has been issued against the suspects at the Jerusalem District Court. The men range in age from 21 to 24.
According to the charges, the suspects had been in contact with Al-Qaida over the Internet with the purpose of establishing a terror cell in Israel.
The indictment states that one of the suspects - a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - provided Al-Qiada with photographs from his cellular phone of the U.S. president's planned landing site near the university stadium.
According to the Shin Bet statement, the student - Nazareth resident Mohammed Nijam - lived in a college dormitory overlooking the landing pad. Nijam allegedly sent a message to a Web site linked to Al-Qaida and asked about shooting the helicopter down.
The other Israeli Arab suspect is also a student at the Hebrew University.
The Shin Bet said that investigators found bomb-making instructions on the personal computers of several of the suspects.
Second round of Al-Qaida arrests in less than month
This was the second time this month that security services have arrested Israeli citizens for alleged links to Al-Qaida. Israel security services revealed in early July that they had arrested two Israeli Bedouin suspected of passing strategic information to Al-Qaida, a charge the men's relatives are denying.
The two Bedouin, residents of the southern village of Rahat, allegedly transferred information about Israel Defense Forces military bases and other strategic sites through the Internet, the Shin Bet said.
The two are also suspected of giving the militant network details about key Tel Aviv loactions, including the Azrieli towers and Ben Gurion International Airport, as well as other populated public places that could be used as targets in potential attacks.
That incident was apparently the first time that Israeli security forces have arrested any citizens for alleged cooperation with al-Qaida.
The men were arrested at the end of May and beginning of June, the Shin Bet statement said.
There is no known al-Qaida presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, though Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have both expressed concern about the group trying to enter the Palestinian areas.
While there are several shadowy hardline Muslim groups in the Gaza Strip that have claimed responsibility for attacking Christians, bombing coffee shops and internet cafes because of their perceived Western influence, they do not belong to the global extremist network.