After serving a fourteen-year prison term for plotting to poison customers at Cafe Rimon in Yerushalayim, Sufian Bakri Abdu was released, Ynet reported on Monday.
Abdu headed the terrorist cell which planned to carry out the attack during the Second Intifada. The Shin Bet and police acted on intelligence information to arrest Abdu and two others before they could carry out their murderous plot.
Abdu conspired in Auguat 2002 with Utman Said Kianyah from Silwan, a chef in Cafe Rimon. Abdu was to supply Utman with the poison, which he would then put in the cafe customers’ food and drinks.
The poison was supposed to take effect 15 hours after ingestion, making it more difficult for authorities to identify traces of deliberate poisoning. Rather, the apparent cause of death would be cardiac arrest.
Under interrogation by Shin Bet at the time, Abdu said that he was motivated by a desire to avenge the death of Hamas senior military wing operative Salah Shehade, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
His arrest was completely unexpected. “We tried to protect against all threats but we didn’t think of this way [of attacking the cafe]. We had checked and asked about our workers, but no one saw any problems with them,” cafe owner Ronen Rimon told Israel Radio at the time.
“We didn’t suspect anything. He’s a good worker who sat down with me just a week ago to discuss a raise.”
Abdu was given a welcome-home party by his family and friends in the neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber in eastern Yerushalayim.
Maor Tzemach, Chairman of the organization ‘Lach Yerushalayim’ (To Thee Jerusalem), which seeks to extend Israeli sovereignty to all parts of Yerushalayim, lamented the decision to let Abdu go free.
“Unfortunately, the release of terrorists and nationalist prisoners in Yerushalayim turns into a display of incitement against the state of Israel and support for terror,” said Tzemach. “Just as there are conditions for the release of terrorists’ bodies, there need to be conditions imposed when releasing (living) terrorists.”
Police officials said, however, that they would not interfere with the local reception as long as there was no incitement or public disturbances.