A terrorist cell from a village north of Jerusalem plotted to kidnap an Israeli soldier to trade for the release of terrorist leaders imprisoned in Israel, according to the Israeli Shin Bet Security Agency.
The cell was headed by 42-year-old Rajab Aldin, an operative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). His plan was to kidnap an Israeli soldier and offer him/her to the relatives of former PFLP leader, Ahmed Sadat, or jailed Tanzim leader, Marwan Barghouti, in exchange for cash.
Sadat is serving a 30-year prison sentence for leading a terrorist organization responsible for attacks against Israel during the Second Intifada as well the assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rechavam Ze'evi in 2001.
The latest plot reflects increased PFLP efforts to free Sadat and a rising determination among all Palestinian terror groups to kidnap Israeli soldiers, Shin Bet said. Israeli Defense Forces reported approximately 20 attempted kidnappings of soldiers in the West Bank in 2011.
Another potential crisis involving Israeli tourists abroad also seems to have been averted recently after security authorities in Cyprus arrested a Lebanese man on July 7 who is alleged to have been tracking Israeli tourists on the island with plans to launch an attack.
The 24-year-old suspect, who has a Swedish passport, has not been charged with any offense but is being detained by Cypriot authorities following hearings held behind closed doors. A government source said the arrest was the result of information obtained from foreign intelligence agencies.
This incident marks the second time this year a Lebanese-Swedish man has been arrested for targeting Israelis abroad. Thai authorities arrested Hussein Idris in January along with another Lebanese man who were suspected of orchestrating bomb attacks against Israeli targets in Bangkok. The plots are believed to part of a Hezbollah mission to avenge the assassination of its military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, who the group believes was killed by the Mossad in Damascus in 2008.
There are conflicting reports still emerging about the latest plot in Cyprus, although it seems to have been in the preliminary stages.
"It is not clear what, or whether, there was a target in Cyprus," a senior government official told Reuters. "That is under investigation."