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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Palestinian convert to Judaism charged with aiding militants

Palestinian convert to Judaism charged with aiding militants

By Fadi Eyadat, Haaretz Correspondent

The Haifa District Court on Thursday charged a Palestinian-born Israeli with conspiring to aid the enemy during wartime, and with establishing contacts with a foreign agent.

Assaf Ben David (Hussam Sawafta), 39, is suspected of purchasing materials for Islamic Jihad to aid them in making explosives.

Ben David, originally a resident West Bank town of Tubas, converted to Judaism in 1993 and obtained Israeli citizenship. He recently moved to Kiryat Haim, north of Haifa.

According to the charges, the defendant's brother, Salah Sawafta, is an active member of the Islamic Jihad and is wanted by Israeli security forces.

Ben David is accused of maintaining phone contact with his brother between October and December 2006. He also allegedly met with his brother, despite knowing that his brother was wanted by Israeli security forces.

In their meetings, the defendant is said to have agreed to his brother's request to purchase a large amount of nitric acid, which serves as an ingredient in preparing explosives.

The nitric acid was allegedly supposed to be used by the Islamic Jihad in militant activities against Israel.

The indictment states that Ben David tried to evade the security forces' wire tapping by buying his sister several mobile SIM cards, and asking her to serve as a liaison between him and his brother.

According to the indictment, the defendant's brother was killed in an exchange of fire with Israel Defense Forces troops on December 20, before the defendant had a chance to transfer the dangerous material.

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