Terrorists planning kidnapping attack arrested

Three terrorists planning a kidnapping of an Israeli civilian or soldier were arrested in early January as they mapped out details of the attack, including building a house in which the solder would be kept and obtaining fake Israeli IDs

Date: 07/04/2011, 1:35 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website

The Israel Security Agency (ISA) and the IDF (Zahal) arrested members of a terrorist cell in Ramallah in the first weeks of January, 2011. The cell admitted to having planned a kidnapping of Israeli civilians or soldiers to gain leverage for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The cell’s activities serve as an example of the high motivation of terrorist organizations, and specifically Hamas, to carry out kidnapping attempts, as a way of pressuring Israel to release Palestinian prisoners. Military Prosecution indicted the terrorist cell in the Judea military court a month ago.

On Wednesday (Apr. 6), the ISA published the cell leader’s name, Ibrahim Mousa Zaharan, 31, a Hamas terrorist from the village of Bidu, northwest of Jerusalem, who’d been imprisoned between the years 2006-2010 after planning other terrorist attacks (including a kidnapping). Upon his release in December of 2010, he began planning yet another kidnapping as head of the cell.

Zaharan began working for Hamas during his years in prison

Nizam Shnina was also a member of the cell. He was originally from the Gaza Strip and arrived in Ramallah in the year 2001 as a member of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces. In 2006, Nizam operated in a terrorist cell planning both an attack on and kidnapping of Israelis as a result of which he was arrested in October 2006 and was imprisoned until February 2010. During his years in jail he began working for Hamas and met the head of the cell, Zaharan.

The third member arrested was Jihad Dib Al-Shami, 34, from the Gaza refugee camp Jabalia. Jihad was part of the Gaza Strip’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization. He moved to the Judea and Samaria region in 2005 without a required permit and lived in the West Bank illegally. Jihad joined Hamas and served as a member of the organization until his arrest in 2008. It was in prison that he met Zaharan and consequently where the seeds for the terrorist cell were planted, the cell beginning its operations after the three were released.

In the month of December, 2010, Zaharan and Shnina decided to kidnap an Israeli soldier, ultimately as a way to pressure Israel into releasing Palestinian prisoners who’d been part of Hamas. Zaharan asked Jihad to take part in the operation to strengthen the kidnapping plan.

The terrorists’ car would have an Israeli license plate

The two planned to buy a plot of land in the Ramallah region on which they’d build a house with a secret underground tunnel. The goal was to keep the kidnapped soldier in the house or in the tunnel while Jihad led a supposedly normal life and guarded him.

Shnina and Zaharan worked to get a vehicle with an Israeli license plate allowing easy access into Israel. It could also be used during the kidnapping. They also planned to get fake Israeli IDs, to change their identities and get more operatives involved, thus gaining even easier access into Israel.

In the short period that the cell operated before it was thwarted, its operatives worked on getting the operation funded. The cell turned to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, specifically Shnina’s brother, a Hamas operative himself. Shnina would serve as the communications person between members of the cell and Sa’am Pir Chat, a representatives of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigade (Hamas’ military wing) in the Gaza Strip.