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Islamic State supporter indicted for murder of three Jerusalem residents

Wasim a-Sayed, 34, a Palestinian from Hebron, was detained last month; he is accused in killings of Kaduri couple in 2019 and Moldovan foreign worker Ivan Tarnovski in 2022

Wasim a-Sayed arrives for a court hearing on murder charges at the District Court in Jerusalem, April 18, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Wasim a-Sayed arrives for a court hearing on murder charges at the District Court in Jerusalem, April 18, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

An Islamic State supporter was indicted Monday for the murders of three Jerusalem residents and the attempted murders of two others, over the past three years.

Police last week said they believed Wasim a-Sayed was responsible for the 2019 double homicide of an elderly couple in Jerusalem, as well as the killing of a Moldovan foreign worker last month.

According to the indictment submitted to the Jerusalem District Court, a-Sayed, 34, a Palestinian from the city of Hebron in the West Bank, joined the Salafia Jihadia jihadist group in 2011 and swore allegiance to Islamic State in 2014.

After his release from a Palestinian prison in January 2019, he decided to carry out attacks against Jews in Jerusalem, the indictment read.

The indictment accuses him of the murder of Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri in their Jerusalem apartment in January 2019, a crime police had struggled for years to crack.

The investigation also found that a-Sayed was responsible for the attempted murder of teenager Hadar Betzalel days before murdering the Kaduri couple, with the attack on Bezalel marking his first attempted killing.

The indictment said a-Sayed was actually arrested and placed in Israeli administrative detention, without trial, for around two years at some point following these crimes due to his affiliation with Islamic State — though he was not suspected at the time of the Kaduri murders. No details were provided on when exactly his detention began.

He was released in March 2022, it said, and within days committed his next murder: on March 20, a-Sayed crossed into Israel illegally and looked for a target in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. He eventually randomly entered an apartment building and the unlocked home of several sleeping foreign workers.

Believing them to be Jews, he stabbed the two in their sleep, killing Ivan Tarnovski, a foreign worker from Moldova, and critically injuring his roommate.

A-Sayed was arrested hours later, while trying to cross the security fence near Jerusalem again. The knife he was carrying, and his history of administrative detention, led him to be transferred to the custody of the Shin Bet for further questioning.

At the time of a-Sayed’s arrest, police were not aware that he was responsible for any of the murders.

Following a joint investigation carried out by police and the Shin Bet, police concluded that a-Sayed was behind the murders of Tarnovski, as well as Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri in 2019.

The investigation also found that a-Sayed was responsible for the attempted murder of Betzalel.

“I decided that I would murder Jews but I wouldn’t tell anyone about it. It would 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 during his investigation, 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. (Screen grab/ Twitter)

The Kaduri case was previously regarded by officials as “one of the hardest to solve in Jerusalem over the past few years.”

The main piece of evidence that led the police investigation into the Kaduri case was a footprint found at the scene of the attack — a footprint created by a shoe manufactured by the company Nevil’s Shoes, which are only sold in the West Bank.

After a-Sayed’s arrest last month and the investigation that followed, police raided his home in Hebron. According to a report by Channel 12, it was his mother who led officers to a warehouse nearby, where they found religious texts concerning Islamic State, as well as other evidence. Police were also able to recover a pair of Nevil’s sneakers that fit the footprints found at the Kaduri residence.

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

According to the indictment, all of a-Sayed’s terrorist activity stemmed from his support of Islamic State.

On Sunday, the Islamist militant jihadist group urged its supporters in Israel to launch additional terror attacks, the first such call since two deadly terror attacks were carried out last month by Arab Israelis thought to have been inspired by the group.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks, though it did not appear the terrorists had been instructed by it to commit them.

In a long address for the holy month of Ramadan, the jihadist group’s new spokesperson Abu-Omar al-Muhajjir called for a new “global offensive” in retaliation for the death of its leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, last February.

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