The Israeli Arab gunman who opened fire on a Tel Aviv bar on January 1 killing two people, and then killed the cab driver in whose taxi he fled the scene, was planning more attacks before being killed in a shootout, according to information released Wednesday.
Security and justice officials released details of an investigation into the terror attack, including news of the indictment of three people suspected of helping Nashat Milhem hide, and selfie videos of Milhem drinking, using drugs and railing against Jews and others.
According to a statement by the Shin Bet security service, Milhem took a public bus to his hometown after the shooting spree, where he hid for a week before being found by police following a nationwide manhunt. (Two sisters saw him on the bus and this was reported to police but ignored, Israel Radio said Wednesday.)
Ayoub Rashid, Muhammad Adel Milhem and Amin Milhem, the latter two relatives of the terrorist, were indicted in Haifa District Court Wednesday on charges of helping Milhem hide in his Arara hometown, bringing him food, a cellphone, cigarettes and narcotics.
On January 1, Milhem opened fire at the Simta bar in central Tel Aviv, killing Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi. He then commandeered a taxi and killed driver Amin Shaaban, apparently fearing Shaaban would turn him in, before abandoning the vehicle because he couldn’t operate it, and taking a public bus home.
According to the Shin Bet, Milhem abandoned the taxi on a road in northern Tel Aviv, and used public transportation to get to the Wadi Ara region of his hometown. Before fleeing Tel Aviv, Melhem hung a banner on a rooftop on which he wrote “Daesh,” the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS), and another marked “There is no god but God and Mohammed is the messenger of God”, the Shin Bet told AFP.
Milhem planned and carried out the attack alone, the Shin Bet said.
His phone contained clips in which he filmed himself drinking, smoking and ranting about his deep hatred of “the enemies of Islam,” including Shiites, Jews and Christians.
“Obama, the crusader,” Milhem is seen saying to the camera in a clip published by the Shin Bet, “convert to Islam. You won’t convert? Let’s see if the cross helps you, you son of a whore.” Milhem appears completely inebriated in the clip.
He also said he would carry out another attack in Tel Aviv.
The Shin Bet did not link Milhem to Islamic State but noted that he used terminology similar to that used by the terror group. He also specifically detailed his hatred toward Russians.
According to court statements, Milhem said he was planning on carrying out an attack at the Mahane 80 army base in Wadi Ara, Army Radio reported.
Milhem told an alleged accomplice he killed cab driver Shaaban because he threatened to turn him in to police, the Ynet news website reported.
“I murdered two Jews and the cab driver because he told me he’d tell the police,” Milhem told one of three Arara residents held on suspicion of helping him hide, according to the indictment.
Two girls saw Milhem board a bus from Tel Aviv toward Wadi Ara, noticed the blood on his shirt, later recognized him from broadcast security footage, and attempted to alert police, but were ignored despite a massive manhunt launched after the attack, Israel Radio said. They reported the sighting to their employer, who repeatedly contacted the police but was ignored.
Upon reaching his hometown of Arara, Milhem hid in the warehouse of one of the three suspected abettors, and the next day moved to the abandoned home of an old woman from the village, where he remained for six days until the shootout in which he was killed by police commandos.
Milhem threatened the owner of the warehouse, saying that if he contacted the police Milhem would hurt his wife and children.
A relative of one suspected accomplice said he didn’t believe he was linked to the attacker.
“I think there are no grounds to anything that was said about him. We will bring proof and nothing will come of it,” the relative told the Ynet news website.