Arrest of terrorist cell responsible for attack at Qalandiya checkpoint


Cars destroyed by bomb at Qalandiya checkpoint Aug 11, 2004 (©Reuters/Ammar Awad)

(Communicated by Israeli security sources)

On August 11, 2004, at approximately 13:00, an explosive device, weighing 15 kg, was detonated at the Qalandiya checkpoint, north of Jerusalem. The explosion caused Palestinian casualties and the injury of six Israeli Border Policemen, three of them seriously.

In the past few days since the terrorist attack, the members of the terrorist cell responsible for planning and executing the terror attack were arrested in a joint operation of the IDF, the Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police.

Several hours after the terror attack Bassam Mustaffa Asad Abid, a 29-year-old taxi driver, was arrested in Ramallah. Questioning revealed information which led to the arrest of Mohammed Fathi Div Ayosh, aged 27, on July 12. Both Abid and Ayosh are residents of the Arabe village, near Jenin.

The third member of the terrorist cell, Wail Nabil Mahmud Nairat, aged 29, from the village of Mitalun in Samaria, was arrested on the morning of July 13 in a complex intelligence operation, and was discovered hiding in the Aven Javil mosque in the A-Ram neighborhood.

The investigation of the members of the terrorist cell revealed that they were directed by Mahmud Asad Abu Halifa, 25, and Zacaria Zbeidi, 28, both wanted members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a part of the Fatah organization in Jenin. Both of them transferred the explosive device used in the terror attack, and guided Wail Nairat, who activated the device.

The members of the terrorist cell planned to smuggle Wail Nairat into Haifa in order to carry out a mass terror attack in the Talpiot market in the city. Nairat was guided to carry out the attack in another central city inside Israel, if he failed to reach Haifa.

Basam Abid drove Wail Nairat in his taxi, and behind him traveled the taxi in which the explosive device was hidden under a carton of vegetables. The taxi with Wail drove first, in order to alert the taxi behind of IDF forces and checkpoints along the way. The taxis traveled west in the direction of Tul-Karem, passed through Atil and from there continued on the Ramallah bypass road to A-Ram.

The convoy moved from Jenin to A-Ram, taking advantage of the easing of security measures put into place by the IDF in order to enable the Palestinian population to lead normal daily lives. Furthermore, members of the terrorist cell purchased a baby carriage in which to conceal the explosive device. Basam and Mohammed rented a vehicle to transport Wail Nairat and the explosive device to Haifa from the Qalandiya checkpoint, and loaded the explosive device as well as the baby carriage into the vehicle.

While they were getting ready to leave Qalandiya, an alert was passed to the Israeli security forces in the area of a terrorist cell in the area which was planning to carry out a terror attack within Israel. A swift response of the IDF, the ISA and the Israeli Police led to a massive deployment of forces in the north of Jerusalem, in order to prevent the terrorist cell from reaching Israel.

Seeing the deployment of the forces in the area, the terrorists understood they would not be able to carry out a terror attack inside Israel, and thus laid the explosive device inside the baby carriage as they were approaching the Qalandiya checkpoint. As border policemen at the checkpoint approached the baby carriage, and the terrorists activated the explosive device. As a result of the explosion two Palestinians were killed, six Israeli Border Policemen were wounded, and other Palestinians bystanders were injured.

Mohammed Aiush, driver of the second taxi, fled the area of the terror attack hiding among wounded Palestinians whom he transported in his taxi to a Ramallah hospital. Wail Nairat took advantage of the situation as well, transporting a young Palestinian woman who was injured in the attack to a clinic in A-Ram.

When they were arrested by security forces, members of the terrorist cell handed in a gun which was in their possession. They had hidden the gun beforehand in a vehicle with which they had planned to flee if captured by security forces. Investigation of the terrorist cell members by security forces continues.