Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Israeli Jew, born a Palestinian Muslim, charged with conspiring to carry out terror attack

Matti Friedman:

Asaf Ben-David, an Israeli Jew, is facing charges of conspiring to carry out a terror attack with a wanted Palestinian militant his brother.

The exceptional story of Ben-David, a 38-year-old father of four, begins in Tubas, a village in the West Bank, where he was born a Palestinian Muslim named Hussam Sawafta. In the early 1990s, he found work as a laborer in Israel, where he converted to Judaism, lived as an Orthodox Jew, married an Israeli woman and raised a family.

For years, Ben-David led a seemingly uneventful life and had little contact with his Palestinian relatives. Then last month, the Israeli army killed his brother, Salah Sawafta, an Islamic Jihad militant, in a West Bank gunbattle. Last week, Ben-David was indicted on charges of helping his brother plan a deadly attack against Israelis.

According to the charge sheet, Ben-David surreptitiously had contact with his brother for months and tried to help him obtain a large amount of nitric acid, used to prepare bombs.

Indictment: Jewish convert aided terror


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