On Wednesday, Jan. 22, Israeli officials formally stated that security forces had foiled an Al Qaeda plot to blow up the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv along with the convention center in Jerusalem.
Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, stated on Wednesday that on Dec. 25 it had arrested three Palestinians who were allegedly recruited by an Al Qaeda operative over the Internet.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the attackers had planned simultaneous suicide attacks on the International Convention Center in Jerusalem and the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv.One suspect planned to load a truck with bombs and also provide five terrorists with forged identification papers that would allow them to enter Israel. Three of the bombers would detonate themselves at the International Convention Center, where President Barack Obama spoke back in March 2013. The truck driver would then detonate the truck in order to kill bystanders and rescuers. Meanwhile, the two remaining terrorists would detonate at the entrance to the United States Embassy.
“The recruiter … told them that he worked for Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over the leadership of Al Qaeda after the Americans killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011,” Haaretz stated.
Despite the nature by which the foiled threat was announced, the United States government has not confirmed the threat. According to NBC News, several officials stated that they “could not verify the Israeli report … particularly the purported link to Al Qaeda — even though U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies communicate closely and frequently.”
NBC News added that a senior State Department official speaking on the condition of anonymity said, “The validity is something we’re still looking at.”
Whether the foiled terrorist plot was the work of Al Qaeda or a different organization, it remains common knowledge that embassy attacks have been an Al Qaeda calling card for over 15 years. On Aug. 7, 1998, multiple car bomb attacks killed or wounded over 4,000 people at United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, Dar Es Salaam and Tanzania. And on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, the embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked, resulting in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. In all of the attacks, the assailants had affiliations with Al Qaeda.