President Bush at news conference Tuesday (White House)
JERUSALEM – On the heels of a visit here next week by Sen. Barack Obama, Israel today announced it arrested six Arabs who allegedly were plotting to assassinate President Bush on behalf of al-Qaida.
Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services released for publication that it had arrested six Arabs – two of them Israeli citizens and the other four Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem – for attempting to set up an al-Qaida cell with plans to shoot down Bush’s helicopter during the president’s recent visit to Israel.
According to a police indictment, an Israeli Arab student – Nazareth resident Mohammed Nijam – lived in a college dormitory at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University that overlooks the landing pad used by Bush’s helicopter while he was here in May and also in January. Nijam and another Hebrew University student, Ibrahim Naashaf, are accused of sending messages to al-Qaida-linked websites asking for instructions on how to shoot down the helicopter.
Nijam and Naashaf are said to have formed a closed terrorist cell with four other Arabs here, all in their early 20s. All six were said to be active in the Temple Mount’s al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Shin Bet did not say how advanced the Arab’s plans were, but an indictment stated investigators found bomb-making instructions on the personal computers of several of the suspects.
This was the second time in a month Israel announced it arrested al-Qaida suspects. Two weeks ago, Israeli police revealed they arrested two Israeli Bedouin suspected of passing strategic information to al-Qaida.
The Bush assassination plot was revealed days before Obama is set to land in Israel as part of a wider Middle Eastern and European tour that includes Jordan, Israel, France and Germany.
While in Israel, Obama is planning stops in Jerusalem and in Ramallah in the West Bank.
The Drudge Report today quoted U.S. government officials expressing concern for the Israeli portion of Obama’s trip, particularly his visit to Ramallah.
Israeli security officials speaking to WND said the Jewish state does not have any concerns about the Jerusalem portion of Obama’s visit and that proper security arrangements are being made with the Palestinian Authority and U.S. security coordinators for the Illinois senator’s quick stop in Ramallah.
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