Shin Bet foils extremist plan to attack Muslims

Shin Bet foils extremist plan to attack Muslims

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JERUSALEM (AP) — A suspected Jewish extremist told investigators that his group planned simultaneous attacks on Muslim worshippers at mosques in Jerusalem, including Islam's third holiest shrine, a security official said Tuesday.

The attacks were meant to avenge victims of Palestinian violence, said the anonymous official.

In recent weeks, Israel's Shin Bet security service has been investigating Jewish extremists in connection with shootings that killed eight Palestinian civilians.

Shahar Dvir-Zeliger, an alleged member of the group, told investigators the attacks were to take place during Friday prayers, when the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem and mosques across Israel would be crowded, the official said. Muslims account for nearly 20 percent of Israel's 6.6 million people.

Planning for the attacks began last year but was still in the early stages, with the group collecting intelligence on targets, Dvir-Zeliger told investigators.

Dvir-Zeliger was charged last week with stealing weapons from the Israeli military, and prosecutors said he was procuring arms for Jewish vigilantes suspected of killing Palestinians.

Police also found a large weapons cache in a West Bank cave, including M-16 rifles, machine-guns, three anti-tank rockets, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and dozens of grenades — all stolen from the Israeli army.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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