Israeli security services have arrested three men who were allegedly in the “initial stages” of an al Qaeda-linked plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv as well as the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, according to several local news reports and a statement from the Israeli Prime Minister.
Al-Qaida Linked Groups
The three men were arrested last year on Christmas Day and are alleged to have been recruited over the internet by “a member of one of the al Qaeda-linked global jihad groups operating in Gaza,” according to Haaretz, which cited a high level official at Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.
The Jerusalem Post reported that sources within Shin Bet said the recruiter received his orders directly from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the man who took over the leadership of the terrorist group after Osama bin Laden’s death in May 2011.
A statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the basic elements of the purported plot and said the group’s goal was “hard terror attacks in Israel.”
The Post said other potential targets included a local bus as well as emergency responders who would have been called to the aftermath of the initial blasts.
According to a senior U.S. official familiar with the situation, the plot was “audacious” and involved a “small cell.” The official also said the threat was credible and that “(they) have no reason to question the Israeli intelligence.”