IS-linked Palestinian nabbed for 2019 killing of elderly couple that stumped police

Wasim a-Sayed to be indicted for allegedly stabbing to death Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri at their Jerusalem apartment, as well as Moldovan Ivan Tarnovski in the capital last month

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

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

Police on Thursday announced they had solved the 2019 double homicide of an elderly couple in Jerusalem, as well as the killing of a Moldovan foreign worker, also in the capital last month.

Wasim a-Sayed, a 34-year-old Palestinian from Hebron, was arrested by officers a day after Ivan Tarnovski was stabbed to death in Jerusalem on March 21. A second Moldovan man was also wounded.

In a joint statement with the Shin Bet security agency, police said a-Sayed is also responsible for the murders of Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri in their apartment in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in January 2019, a day after allegedly stabbing a teenage girl nearby.

The case was previously regarded by officials as “one of the hardest to solve in Jerusalem over the past few years.” Police initially investigated the killings as a terror case, but later pursued a domestic criminal motive.

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 of the cases. According to police, he was detained with a knife on his person while trying to cross the West Bank security barrier.

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)

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.

Police allege his murders stemmed from his support of IS. He will be formally indicted in the coming days.

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)

“I congratulate the police and the Shin Bet security agency, who got their hands on the despicable murderer of the couple Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Twitter.

“We will persecute anyone who harms the citizens of Israel and bring them to justice — anytime, at any hour, anywhere,” he added, without mentioning the killing of Tarnovski, the Moldovan foreign worker, last month.

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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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