Arab Israeli man charged with aiding Temple Mount terrorists
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Arab Israeli man charged with aiding Temple Mount terrorists

Shin Bet says investigation of deadly shooting attack uncovered connections between the gunmen and banned Northern Branch of Islamic Movement

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Amjad Jabarin arrives in a Haifa District Court on August 24, 2017, where he is charged with accessory to murder in connection with a terror attack on the Temple Mount in July. (Screen capture: Channel 10)
Amjad Jabarin arrives in a Haifa District Court on August 24, 2017, where he is charged with accessory to murder in connection with a terror attack on the Temple Mount in July. (Screen capture: Channel 10)

An Arab Israeli man was indicted Thursday for assisting the three gunmen who killed two police officers just outside the Temple Mount compound last month.

The Shin Bet security service said the suspect, 35-year-old Amjad Muhammad Ahmad Jabarin from the city of Umm al-Fahm, transported the three terrorists to Jerusalem, spoke with them about their plans ahead of time, and “even offered to join them in carrying out the attack on at least two occasions.”

During his interrogation, Jabarin also revealed connections between the three terrorists — all of them named Muhammad Jabarin from Umm al-Fahm — and the outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, the Shin Bet said.

On July 14, at approximately 3:00 a.m., the three gunmen, all of whom were named Muhammad Jabarin, arrived at the Temple Mount from Umm al-Fahm for prayers with guns and a knife hidden under their clothes. The weapons had been smuggled into the site by an accomplice.

They remained at the holy site for four hours, before walking out toward the Muslim Quarter. Just after 7:00 a.m., they opened fire at two Israel Police officers, Haiel Sitawe, 30, and Kamil Shnaan, 22, who were stationed at one of the entrances to the Temple Mount, killing them. Other police officers on the scene shot back at the terrorists, killing them.

Master Sgt. Kamil Shnaan, left, and Master Sgt. Haiel Sitawe, right, the police officers killed in the terror attack next to the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017. (Israel Police)
Master Sgt. Kamil Shnaan, left, and Master Sgt. Haiel Sitawe, right, the police officers killed in the terror attack next to the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017. (Israel Police)

Amjad Jabarin was arrested on July 23, nine days after the attack. On Thursday, he was formally charged in a Haifa District Court as an accessory to murder.

According to the indictment, Jabarin trained with the terrorists ahead of the attack, joining them when they went to practice shooting their improvised “Carlo” submachine guns.

The night before the attack, he also drove the three to a soccer field in Umm al-Fahm, which served as a pickup point for a shuttle to the Temple Mount, knowing that they were armed and planning to carry out the shooting, according to the charges against him.

After the attack, Jabarin also hid some of the killers’ belongings — cellphones and keys to a car — which they’d given him beforehand, according to the indictment.

The Shin Bet said the men came together to plan their attack at the mosque in Umm al-Fahm’s al-Malsaa’ neighborhood.

Three Arab Israelis named by the Shin Bet as responsible for shooting dead two Israeli police officers next to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017: Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19 and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19. (Channel 2 composite screenshot)
Three Arab Israelis named by the Shin Bet as responsible for shooting dead two Israeli police officers next to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017: Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19 and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19. (Channel 2 composite screenshot)

“The findings of the investigation pointed to a clear link between the al-Malsaa’ mosque and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which was declared an illegal organization in November 2015 and is now considered a terrorist organization,” the agency said.

The Shin Bet noted that one of the gunmen was responsible for maintenance at the mosque and served as its muezzin, the person who performs the call to prayer.

According to the indictment against Amjad Jabarin, he also used his position in the mosque to hide two of the guns used in the attack inside the building.

“In addition, connections were found between the assailants and the Islamic Movement, including support for the ideas put out by the movement and through their involvement in organizations that have clear links to the Islamic Movement,” the Shin Bet said.

As an example, the agency noted that the terrorist who served as the al-Malsa’a mosque’s muezzin was once active in the Mourabitoun, a group that often clashed with Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount and was declared illegal in September 2015 over its ties to the Islamic Movement and Hamas.

In addition to the accessory to murder charge, Amjad Jabarin was also indicted for being an accessory to a terror attack, using a weapon for the purposes of terror, obstruction of justice and planning to commit a crime.

The Temple Mount attack led to weeks of instability in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Following the Friday morning shooting, Israel shut down the complex for the rest of the day — something that hadn’t been done on a Friday, the most popular day for Muslim prayer, in nearly 50 years.

When the site reopened two days later, police had installed metal detectors at the entrances to the holy site, which local Muslim officials decried as attempts to change the status quo. The weeks that followed saw numerous bloody clashes between police and East Jerusalemites, who refused to pass through the detectors and instead held at times violent protests outside the Old City.

A degree of calm was restored to the capital after the government agreed to remove the metal detectors and other security measures from the entrances to the Temple Mount on July 25.

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