Nazareth Men 'Inspired by Al-Qaida' Indicted for Murder

Three alleged members of terror cell charged with 2009 murder of taxi driver Yefim Weinstein

Three men from Nazareth were indicted yesterday by Nazareth Magistrate's Court for last year's murder of a taxi driver from Upper Nazareth. The three men - Ahmed Ahmed (21 ), Ghaleb Ranim (26 ) and Haider Ziadna (22 ) - along with four other Nazareth men, are also accused of establishing a terror cell inspired by global jihad.

Two Nazareth men indicted for murder of cab driver
Gil Eliyahu

All seven suspects were indicted yesterday; Ahmed, for murdering driver Yefim Weinstein, and Ranim and Ziadna as accomplices, and the other four for violence against Jews and Christians, among other charges.

According to the indictment, the members of the cell watched Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's speeches online and sought to join the fight against Jewish and Christian "infidels."

The cell was discovered about two months ago, after Ahmed and Ranim traveled to Somalia to train at an Al-Qaida camp. The pair flew from Israel to Adis Ababa, Ethiopia and from there to Kenya, where they were arrested and deported back to Israel. On their return they were interrogated by the Shin Bet security service and the police, with their testimonies indicating involvement in Weinstein's murder.

Ahmed and Ranim told investigators they had decided to murder a Jewish taxi driver. They called a cab from the Upper Nazareth station and said they wanted to go to the Nazareth mall. Ahmed, carrying a gun, got into the cab, driven by Weinstein. He instructed Weinstein to stop at Kfar Hahoresh junction near Nazareth, at which point he apparently shot and killed the driver. One of the accomplices allegedly picked Ahmed up on a motorbike and drove him to where the other accomplice was waiting with a car; they fled away in the car after getting rid of the motorbike.

Rafi Masalha, who is representing the three men, said the defense had not yet seen the material against his clients. "The prosecution can attribute whatever it wants at this stage to the defendants," he said.

The defendants claim they confessed to involvement in the murder because they had been deprived of sleep, were handcuffed for long periods to a chair and were threatened with the imprisonment of relatives.

Upon entering the courtroom, Ahmed - who was asked by the press whether he hated Christians and Jews - responded, "Long live Osama Bin Ladin."

The Weinstein family said the day had been very difficult for them, but that they were somewhat relieved by the indictment as rumors had circulated about the circumstances of the murder. "Yefim's name was cleared today," one relative said.