(photo credit: ISLAMIC SOCIAL MEDIA)
The Northern District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed indictments with the Nazareth District Court against seven Israelis for founding an Islamic State cell to carry out terrorist attack in Israel.
The defendants illegally purchased weapons, made contact with Islamic State agents in Syria and started to plan a shooting attack in the Emek Valley and on the police, the indictment states.
One of the defendants, Ahmed Ahmad, 26, from Nazareth, is already serving a life sentence for his involvement in the murder of taxi driver Yafim Weinstein in 2009.
He is accused of corresponding by cellphone with the others to advise them how best to perpetrate their planned terrorist attacks.
Three more defendants were accused of the most serious crimes and were named as Mahmoud Ihaav Sarif, 22, from Nazareth, Ahmad Omer Hagana, 20, from Yafia and Muhammad Hamad Gazal, 23, from Yafia.
The allegations in the indictments are as follows: The four defendants made contact with another Israeli who is still fighting with Islamic State forces in Syria and who encouraged them in their connections with the terrorist organization.
Sarif, Hagana and Gazal performed their weapons and military training in Hursha in October 2014 using a Beretta firearm, along with three others not indicted on Thursday.
On October 5, 2014, the other three not part of this case flew to Turkey and then made their way to Syria, though one of them, Hamza Magasme, returned to Israel on October 24, 2014 and was separately arrested and indicted.
Sarif, Hagana and Gazal were also asked to join Islamic State in Syria, but refused, committing instead to fighting locally for the organization against Israel.
In summer 2014, Sarif and Hagana were about to attack a police vehicle with Molotov cocktails when Gazal nixed the attack for unspecified reasons, possibly related to the poor chance of the attack succeeding and of the group escaping afterwards.
Besides the above defendants, the other three defendants in this case were accused of conspiracy to commit a felony, and weapons related crimes.
Ibrahim and Ali Jubara, 35 and 32, from Fureidis are accused of selling 20 bullets to the other defendants in April 2015.
The last defendant, Baha Aldin Naaran, 22 from Yafia, is accused of negotiating with the other defendants about selling them three illegal weapons.
The other defendants offered Naaran a deal in which they would trade him their Beretta gun plus additional funds for higher quality weapons, but when he demanded an additional NIS 8,000, the deal fell since it was beyond the defendants’ means.
Separate from the Islamic State-related counts, the defendants are accused of attacking and destroying a lottery store in Yafia in March 2012 with Molotov cocktails because of their opposition to its sale of alcohol.
Northern District Police investigator Suzana Zandar said that “the defendants were arrested a month ago and since then have been under investigation... We view with these kinds of actions with great severity and we will continue our efforts to stop anyone who tries to join illegal organizations” such as Islamic State.
The state requested to hold all of the defendants in detention until the end of their trials, and the next hearing on the issue will be on October 22.