Umm al-Fahm Terrorists Charged; Azrieli Mall Bombing Plot Revealed

Four Umm al-Fahm residents were indicted in the Haifa District Court yesterday for cooperating with Hamas in planning terrorist attacks inside Israel - including a suicide bombing in a Hadera bank.

Four Umm al-Fahm residents were indicted in the Haifa District Court yesterday for cooperating with Hamas in planning terrorist attacks inside Israel - including a suicide bombing in a Hadera bank.

A second charge sheet was presented against two Nablus refugee camp residents for plotting a suicide bombing at Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers, after training in Syria with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The four Umm al-Fahm men - Abed Ma'alouani, 19, Mohammed Mahamid, 20, Salam Jibrin, 24, and an 18-year-old minor - were arrested on August 18, two days before they planned to execute a suicide bombing in a Hadera bank. Many of the Hadera area poor, including Arabs from the region, would have been cashing their National Insurance Institute checks at the bank on August 20.

According to the charge sheet, Ma'alouani was the ringleader of the four, recruiting the others on behalf of a Hamas activist he met at A Najah University in Nablus, where he had gone to register for university studies. The indictment said that Ma'alouani, a member of the Islamic Movement, was promised help in getting into medical school in exchange for his help in organizing an Israeli Arab terror cell.

His first recruit was the minor. Together with their Nablus contact, Ali Shuhana, the two allegedly planned to serve the cause by kidnapping soldiers, kidnapping an Afula youth and holding him for ransom to raise money for Hamas, and transporting bombs inside Israel. According to the charge sheet, Ma'alouani agreed to conduct terror attacks, while the minor offered an abandoned house he owned in Umm al-Fahm.

Later, both Ma'alouani and the minor tried to back out, but the putative medical student did agree to recruit others - which is how Jibrin became involved in the plot to kidnap an Afula youth to hold for ransom. Jibrin provided a car for that plot, which was never executed.

Shuhana then contacted Ma'alouani with the proposal they plan a suicide bombing in Hadera, targeting the bank on NII check day. Ma'alouani refused to be the bomber, but proposed the minor for that role. When the minor also refused, Ma'alouani went to Mahamid with the suggestion. Mahamid agreed, but on condition that Ma'alouani promise to carry out a suicide bombing himself after Mahamid's attack. Ma'alouani made the promise, the charge sheet said.

The conspirators set a date - August 18 - to meet in Nablus to get the explosives, but were picked up by the Shin Bet that day. All four have been

charged with aiding and abetting the enemy during war, contact with foreign agents, conspiracy to murder and other charges.

Mahamid's lawyer denies that his client had anything to do with the plotters.

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet also arrested two members of the PFLP, a militant faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on August 7, as they attempted to cross into Israel from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge.

According to the indictment submitted yesterday, Samah Jibril and Rami Katouni received extensive military training in Syria and were intending to carry out a number of attacks against Israelis soldiers and civilians. The final attack was to be a suicide bombing at the high-rise Azrieli Towers complex in Tel Aviv, where the two men had worked in the past.

In Syria, Jibril and Katouni received extensive weapons training, ranging from small arms to shoulder-held rockets, prosecutors claimed. They were also trained in the use of explosives devices, the indictment said.

Katouni's sister Nour, 17, denied the charges. Jibril and Katouni traveled to Syria in order to find good deals for their clothing business, she said, a trip her brother had made monthly for the last three years.