Israel makes arrests in alleged plot against Bush

JERUSALEM Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:30pm EDT

President Bush holds a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington July 15, 2008. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Bush holds a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington July 15, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel accused six Arabs on Friday of trying to set up an al Qaeda cell in Israel and said one of them had proposed attacking helicopters used during a visit by President George W. Bush.

Israel's Shin Bet counter-intelligence agency said one of the suspects had used his mobile phone to film helicopters at a sports stadium in Jerusalem that was used as a landing site for Bush's delegation.

The suspect then posted queries on Web sites frequented by al Qaeda operatives, asking for guidance on how to shoot down the helicopters, the agency said in a statement.

Bush visited Israel in January and again in May.

Lawyers for the six suspects could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Shin Bet identified four of the suspects as Palestinian residents of Arab East Jerusalem and two as Israeli Arabs.

The Shin Bet said the men had met several times at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, seeking to organize a local al Qaeda network. The agency said computers seized from several of the suspects contained bomb-making manuals.

Earlier this month, Israel indicted two of its Bedouin Arab citizens for links to al Qaeda and for planning attacks inside the Jewish state.

(Reporting by Avida Landau; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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