JERUSALEM – Israel has arrested 12 members of a cell that planned to kidnap American citizens, Israeli security officials said Tuesday.
The cell from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small PLO faction, hoped to demand release of their leader, Ahmed Saadat, who is in an Israeli prison after his group claimed responsibility for assassinating an Israeli Cabinet minister.
The statement did not give further details about the alleged plot.
The cell also planned to attack a synagogue in Modiin, a town of 60,000 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the statement said. The cell's leader, Rasmi Shawarne of Kfar Dura, used his job as a construction worker in Modiin to gather information about the town. Shawarne had no permit to work in Israel, the security officials said.
Saadat, the imprisoned leader, heads the PFLP. In 2001, gunmen from Saadat's faction assassinated an Israeli Cabinet minister, Rehavam Zeevi, in a Jerusalem hotel. Israel's attorney general determined there was not enough evidence to indict Saadat in the assassination, but he is being held on other security charges.