The terrorist who killed four people in Beersheba on Tuesday was under Shin Bet surveillance at the time of his stabbing and car-ramming attack, Israeli television reported Wednesday.
Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, 34, killed two women and two men in Tuesday’s attack in the southern city before he was shot dead by armed civilians. A former school teacher from the Bedouin town of Hura, he previously served time in prison for plotting to join the Islamic State Jihadist group in Syria.
According to Channel 12 news, the Shin Bet did not detect any signs Abu al-Qi’an was planning an attack, and also believed he had moderated his past views.
The unsourced report said the lack of any prior indication that Abu al-Qi’an intended to carry out an attack has boosted the security establishment’s assessment that he acted alone, but noted that investigators were still examining if his brothers were aware of his plans or assisted him.
Police arrested two of his brothers after the attack on suspicion of knowing his intentions and failing to prevent an act of terrorism. The two have reportedly denied knowledge of Abu al-Qi’an’s plans or assisting him.
The Walla news site separately reported Wednesday that there was a growing belief among security officials that Abu al-Qi’an did not inform his family and made the decision to carry out the attack not long before doing so.
Citing unnamed security sources, the report noted security services face further restrictions on their ability to monitor Israeli citizens such as Abu al-Qi’an, and said an initial probe did not uncover anything he did before the attack the Shin Bet could have detected.
The security sources told the news site that Abu al-Qi’an had also appeared less radicalized than previously.
“The terrorist’s conduct was the opposite of a terrorist going to carry out an attack,” they were quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the head of the coalition’s Ra’am party — which draws substantial support from traditional Bedouin communities in the Negev desert — strongly condemned the attack.
“Whoever commits a terrible crime is a criminal and a terrorist,” MK Mansour Abbas told Channel 13 news on Wednesday.
He noted the widespread condemnations of the attack by Arab Israelis. “Political leaders, heads of municipalities, religious figures, entire families released statements — there was never anything like this in Arab society,” the Islamist party leader said.
Abbas said he has been speaking out against the attack in Arabic media appearances, citing “the life and coexistence of all of us, Jews and Arabs,’ adding that he hoped to visit the families of the victims and console them.
He also noted the terrorist’s links to Islamic State, saying Muslim faith leaders must give a proper response to “distorted thoughts” on religion.
“We as Arab society feel obligated to act to eradicate this phenomenon, even if it is a phenomenon of individuals,” Abbas said.