The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, announced Thursday that it had broken up a “wide-ranging” Hamas terror plot run by Saleh al-Arouri, a top Hamas official who lives and operates openly in Turkey.
CNN reports that more than 30 suspects were arrested after authorities investigated a series of explosions in the West Bank in late August:
The terror cells were getting orders from Hamas leaders in Turkey, while the operatives got their training outside Israel and were then smuggled back in to carry out the attacks, the Shin Bet said. …
Among the targets selected were the Teddy football stadium and a light rail station in Jerusalem, the Shin Bet said. There were also plans to carry out attacks and abductions in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, it said.
The Times of Israel adds details about Hamas’ operations in the West Bank.
The network was similar in its operational characteristics to one uncovered in August during the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian officials said last week, adding that according to information received from Israel, this terror ring was even larger. Its operatives had already attempted several attacks against Israel, they added, but they had all failed.
As with the previous network, the man behind the terrorist grouping was Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader who was deported from the West Bank to Turkey in 2010, the sources said.
Arouri, they said, built up and funded the network, and has effectively established a Hamas command post in Turkey which is leading terror efforts in the West Bank. Arouri is reportedly aided by dozens of operatives, some of whom were deported by Israel in the wake of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal in 2011.
The cell discovered in August was planning a coup against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
In August, Arouri admitted that Hamas was behind the kidnapping and murders of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel this past summer.
The arrests had been announced late last week, today’s announcement describes the scope of cell’s terror plans.
In Where the Shadiest Players Find a Home, which was published in the September 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jonathan Schanzer explained that Arouri is not the only Hamas operative working openly in Turkey.
Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, Arouri is held in high regard in Turkey. In March 2012, for example, he was part of a Hamas delegation that took part in talks with Turkish officials, including then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The following October, Arouri joined Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal for a high-level meeting with Erdoğan in Ankara.
Arouri is not the only Hamas figure in Turkey. In 2011, Israel released 10 Hamas operatives to Turkey as part of the prisoner exchange deal with Hamas that secured the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Among the Hamas figures believed to have gone to Turkey include Mahmoud Attoun and Taysir Suleiman. Both were sentenced to life terms in Israeli prison for murder. Both men today appear on television and lecture about the merits of Hamas in Turkey and around the Arab world.
More than a year ago, Schanzer noted that Arouri’s activities had the potential to cause Turkey to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.
[Photo: islam arouri / YouTube ]