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Cops apologize to relatives of victims they saw as suspects

‘I looked for Jewish victims,’ suspect in 2019 Jerusalem killings told investigators

Wasim a-Sayed, named by police this week as the killer of Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri and a Moldovan worker, told police he was inspired by Islamic State, reports say

Wasim a-Sayed, 34, a Palestinian from Hebron with Islamic State ties, suspected of carrying out three murders in Jerusalem in 2019 and 2022. (Israel Police)
Wasim a-Sayed, 34, a Palestinian from Hebron with Islamic State ties, suspected of carrying out three murders in Jerusalem in 2019 and 2022. (Israel Police)

The Palestinian who allegedly killed an elderly Jerusalem couple in 2019, and who police named as the culprit on Thursday, has reportedly sketched out the attack and his motivation to investigators.

Police on Thursday announced that last month they had solved the 2019 double homicide of Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri, as well as the killing of a Moldovan foreign worker.

Wasim a-Sayed, a 34-year-old Palestinian from Hebron, was recently arrested in an unrelated incident and linked to the murders of the Kaduris and Ivan Tarnovski, who was killed in Jerusalem on March 22.

A-Sayed told investigators he had been inspired by the Islamic State ahead of the 2019 homicides and went to Jerusalem to look for Jews to kill, according to Thursday reports.

“I decided that I will murder Jews but I won’t tell anyone about it. It will only be between myself and my God. I decided that the Islamic State is my path. I looked for Jewish victims. I wanted to murder a man or a woman but no children,” a-Sayed said, according to Channel 13.

He went to Jerusalem, in an area where he had previously worked, to look for targets, and attacked a 14-year-old girl in a building stairwell. A-Sayed attempted to slit her throat, but the collar of her shirt saved her, and he fled after failing to inflict a serious wound, the investigation revealed. The girl was lightly injured.

Tamar Kaduri, left, and her husband Yehuda, were found murdered in their Jerusalem home on January 13, 2019. (Courtesy)

A day later, a-Sayed returned to the same area, in the capital’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, and saw Yehuda Kaduri, who was elderly and wearing a kippah, unloading groceries from the trunk of his vehicle and bringing them inside.

A-Sayed waited for Kaduri to re-emerge from the building to make his move, and killed Tamar Kaduri, whom he found inside the apartment.

“I waited for him next to the stairs, and the moment I saw him go out again to get the grocery bags, I went into the apartment. I went into the bedroom, murdered the woman, and hid in the apartment,” he reportedly told investigators.

A-Sayed stayed hidden while Yehuda Kaduri put the groceries in the refrigerator and ate a bowl of pasta. His mention of pasta during questioning synced with evidence police collected at the scene, affirming to investigators he was the culprit, Ynet said.

Yehuda Kaduri then went to use the bathroom and found a-Sayed in the apartment. The two fought, and a-Sayed killed the old man.

After the murders, a-Sayed stayed in the apartment overnight.

“I washed my hands in the sink. I stayed in the apartment and I was tired. I slept on the carpet all night, got up in the morning, and took the keys and an apple when I left,” he told investigators, according to Channel 13.

A hooded man is seen in security footage from Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood on January 11, 2019, near the scene of a double murder. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Investigators believed the attack on the Kaduris and the girl were related, but the girl was unable to identify her attacker.

Police also suspected the Kaduris’ family members early in their investigation, and apologized to the family after solving the case, Channel 12 reported on Thursday.

Investigators initially believed the couple’s son, Nitai Kaduri murdered his parents, arrested him and his wife, and handled the family callously, family members said.

Shai Levy, the family’s lawyer, said on Thursday, “Today they’re hearing an apology from the police.”

“At the time, I said their arrest was unforgivable, and now, finally, they’re hearing an apology,” Levy told Channel 12. There was no public apology from police.

Nitai Kaduri and his wife were taken in for police questioning shortly after the murder and released after police failed to turn up any evidence connecting them to the killings. The pair denied any involvement and said the police did not keep them properly informed about the case.

A member of the Kaduri family is embraced by his lawyer after being released from the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on March 5, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Nitai Kaduri said at the time, “We’re struggling with something difficult, aside from this terrible tragedy, and that’s a total lack of transparency from authorities.”

“That includes taking me into an interrogation room just a few minutes after someone bothered to tell me that my parents had passed away,” he said.

He said he had been confined with criminals and drug addicts while arrested, and accused the police of using “brutal” tactics such as pounding on their door in the middle of the night and confiscating their vehicles.

Nitai Kaduri’s relatives rallied behind him on Thursday, saying his name had been cleared.

“Nitai was the kid who wouldn’t step on ants,” Yehuda Kaduri’s sister, Rachel Levy, told Channel 12. “He could never hurt his father. No one in the family ever doubted that for a second.”

Levy, the family lawyer, said police told the family a week ago there had been “dramatic developments” in the case, but wouldn’t elaborate, and only told them on Thursday morning that they caught their suspect.

Levy said the family had lost trust in the justice system due to the police’s handling of the case.

Before the recent breakthrough, the case was regarded by officials as “one of the hardest to solve in Jerusalem over the past few years.”

Avi Cohen of the Jerusalem police gives a statement to the media about the murder of Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri, in Jerusalem, on April 14, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After hitting a dead end in the investigation in 2020, police released security camera footage from the night of the murders and asked for the public’s help in identifying the suspect. The following year, they released a sketch of him.

When he was arrested by Border Police officers in March, police did not know he was linked to either the Kaduri case or the killing of the Moldovan, Tarnovski. According to police, a-Sayed was detained with a knife on his person while trying to cross the West Bank security barrier.

He was transferred to the Shin Bet over his alleged Islamic State ties, with the statement from police and the security agency saying investigators later determined he had carried out the murders.

A-Sayed had been released after two years in administrative detention for his alleged affiliation with Islamic State four days before Tarnovski’s murder.

He was also under administrative detention — a controversial practice allowing security forces to hold suspects without charging them — between 2015 and 2018 over suspected Islamic State ties. He will be formally indicted in the coming days.

The announcement of a-Sayed’s arrest came as Israel has moved to crack down on Islamic State, after six Israelis were killed in a pair of terror attacks in Beersheba and Hadera by Arab Israeli supporters of the jihadist group.

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