Tel Aviv shooting was inspired by Islamic State, security forces say

The man who killed three Israelis and injured seven in Tel Aviv on New Year's Day was inspired by radical Islam, Shin Bet said Wednesday.

Nashat Melhem, 31, shot dead two Israelis and injured seven in a bar in Tel Aviv's landmark Dizengoff Street on January 1, after which he hailed a cab and shot dead the driver, before using public transportation to flee to his hometown in northern Israel, the Israeli internal security organization said.

It published video footage, in which the shooter, a Muslim Israeli, filmed himself prior to the attack on his mobile phone, which he dropped in a northern Tel Aviv neighbourhood hours before the shooting spree.

It had not immediately been clear after the act whether or not the shooting was an ideologically motivated terrorist attack. A gag order had been imposed on the investigation, which was lifted Wednesday.

Material with an Islamic State and Salafist agenda was also found on the phone, including religious content on how to prepare oneself mentally for a terrorist attack, said a Shin Bet statement.

In the videos filmed of himself, Melhem is seen drinking and cursing all "haters of Islam," including Jews, Christians and Shiites. 

He also testified to having taken drugs "of all kinds, from the fluid to the solid" and said he was planning more than one attack. 

"The second attack will be in Tel Aviv, so that the Jews know who they got involved with, these sons of bitches," he said.

He called on US President Barack Obama, whom he cursed as a "crusader," to convert to Islam.

Two relatives and a friend, who the Shin Bet said had helped Melhem hide in his hometown of Ar'ara, were indicted Wednesday in a district court in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa.

They are accused of aiding the perpetrator and of covering up a crime.

Melhem was shot dead on January 8 by special commandos outside the deserted house in his village where he had been hiding, at the end of a tense, eight-day manhunt.

Last update: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 17:26

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