Arrested ‘terror cell’ planned U.S. Embassy attack in Israel

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JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israel has broken up an al Qaeda terror cell that planned a coordinated attack that included bombing the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israeli authorities said Wednesday.

Three men — two from Jerusalem and one from the West Bank — have been arrested in connection with the plot that called for a double suicide bombing targeting the embassy and the Jerusalem Convention Center, according to Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency.

The intelligence agency alleges Iyad Halil Mohammad Abu Sara of East Jerusalem is “the relevant member” of the three-man operation, a statement released by Shin Bet’s media office said.

Abu Sara was allegedly recruited by al Qaeda to go to Syria for training and return to Israel, where he was to connect with others who were to have entered the country using forged Russian documents, the statement said.

While authorities did not say how far along Abu Sara and the others allegedly were in carrying out the plot, the intelligence agency claims it seized computer files sent from Gaza that instructed Abu Sara in the manufacturing of explosives.

Abu Sara allegedly mapped routes to the convention center and had checked out the U.S. Embassy. He also was accused of planning to bomb a bus going from Jerusalem to Ma’ale Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

The United States is working to corroborate the details, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

“I don’t have reason to believe it’s not true. I just don’t have independent verification,” she said.