Security Forces Bust Hamas Gang That Planned Kidnappings

YERUSHALAYIM -
The secret hiding place where the gang planned to hold the kidnapped. (Shin Bet)
The secret hiding place where the gang planned to hold kidnapped victims. (Shin Bet)

Security forces announced Thursday afternoon that they had busted a Hamas terror gang that had been planning to kidnap Israelis and hold them to ransom in exchange for the release of terrorists. The gang had planned to undertake terror attacks with the purpose of capturing Israelis.

In their investigation, Shin Bet security officials said that they had arrested six members of the gang, three of them residents of Yerushalayim and three living in the Chevron area. According to the investigators, the gang was “very close” to carrying out an attack, and had even prepared a location to hold the prisoners and/or bodies they would use to make a deal.

The leader of the Yerushalayim branch of the gang, Ziad Abu-Hadwan, 20, from Yerushalayim’s Old City, was released from an Israeli prison in October 2015 after being convicted of rioting. Similarly, 36-year-old Maher Kawasme, who headed the Chevron branch, had served time for participating in Hamas terror attacks.

According to investigators, the six had been plotting an attack for at least a year, with Kawasme instructing the Yerushalayim Arabs on how to carry out an attack. As residents of Yerushalayim they were free to travel the country, and Hamas planned to use them to carry out an attack in a major Israeli city, the investigators said.