Israel charges Palestinians with Qaeda attack plot
Jerusalem, Mar 21: An Israeli military court charged two Palestinians today (Mar 22, 2006) with membership of al Qaeda and plotting a suicide bombing and car bomb attack for the group.
Charge sheets published by the Israeli military spokesman said Azzam Abu-Alades and Balal Hafanawi, both 19 and from the Nablus area of the occupied West Bank, were recruited to al Qaeda last year in Jordan.
Both were charged by a military tribunal in the West Bank with conspiring to commit murder, membership of an illegal group, illegal possession of weapons and military training with al Qaeda.
The charges say they had plotted a suicide bombing at a pizzeria in a Jewish neighbourhood in Jerusalem to be followed by a car bomb shortly afterwards. They are also accused of recruiting potential suicide bombers to carry out the attacks.
The Israeli army arrested the two in December as they made their way back to the West Bank from Jordan, where they are accused of having met with members of al Qaeda in search of money to purchase weapons.
It was not immediately clear whether a lawyer had been appointed for the defendants or how they would plead.
Al Qaeda has attacked Israelis abroad but its involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been minimal in the past because of what Israeli security experts believe are doctrinal differences with local Palestinian Islamist groups.
Israel charged a Palestinian last September with training at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. He was said to have later declined an offer to join Osama bin Laden's global network.
Al Qaeda, blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, operates worldwide, targeting mainly Westerners.