Lions’ Gate stabber was part of radical WhatsApp group — police
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Lions’ Gate stabber was part of radical WhatsApp group — police

18 members of social media group, 'The path to heaven,' arrested after attack in which 2 were wounded near Jerusalem's Old City

Police and medical professionals arrive at the scene of a stabbing attack, in which two Border Police officers were moderately wounded, in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Magen David Adom)
Police and medical professionals arrive at the scene of a stabbing attack, in which two Border Police officers were moderately wounded, in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 13, 2017. (Magen David Adom)

Police arrested 18 members of a WhatsApp group allegedly used to plan last week’s stabbing attack against police officers in Jerusalem.

Police spokeswoman Luba Sumri said on Sunday that, as part of police investigations into the attack last Monday at Lions’ Gate, it was discovered that the stabber, Ibrahim Mahmoud Mattar, a 25-year-old resident of East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, was a member of a WhatsApp group called “The path to heaven.”

According to police, the group was set up to spread extremist religious views and its members, including Mattar, were recently radicalized.

A day after the attack, police arrested 18 members of the group, residents of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, who are suspected of conspiracy to commit a crime. Eight of the detainees were conditionally released and the remand of 10 suspects was extended until Monday.

Illustrative image of messaging with WhatsApp (CC BY-SA Santeri Viinamäki, Wikimedia commons)
Illustrative image of messaging with WhatsApp (CC BY-SA Santeri Viinamäki, Wikimedia commons)

Two Border Police officers were moderately wounded in the attack which occurred on in the early hours of the Purim festival.

The assailant was shot and critically wounded during the attack. He later died of his injuries.

A large knife used in an attack on two Border Police officers, who were moderately wounded, in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 13, 2017. (Israel Police)
A large knife used in an attack on two Border Police officers, who were moderately wounded, in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 13, 2017. (Israel Police)

According to police, the assailant entered a guard booth where the two officers were stationed holding a large butcher’s knife. Inside the cramped post, he began stabbing and hitting them.

After a brief struggle, one of the officers fought his way out of the guard booth, loaded his weapon and shot the assailant, police said.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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