The Nazareth Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday handed down a sentence of three years to the imam of a city mosque for incitement to violence and terrorism and for supporting a terror organization.

The State Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against Nazem Abu Salim in 2010, charging that the imam founded a Salafist-jihadist group, Ansar Allah Bait Almakdas-Alnasira (Supporters of God Jerusalem- Nazareth). The group’s ideology was alleged to be identical to that of al-Qaida and its global jihad movement – and Abu Salim was accused of preaching and distributing literature about it to his congregants.

He was convicted in April.

Judge Lili Jung-Goffer wrote in the sentence, “This case before me seems to be one of the worst of its kind that has been ruled on by a court in Israel. The accused worked his way deep into an audience with the potential to absorb a dangerous world view. The acts were carried out over a long period of time, in a deep and thorough manner, and eventually, brought about results that caused harm to human life. Therefore, they cannot be looked upon solely as verbal expressions.”

Abu Salim, 47, has been the imam of the Shihab a-Din mosque in Nazareth since 1997. He delivered Friday sermons to a congregation of around 2,000 people and also gave sermons in other mosques, including al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Ansar Allah called on its followers to wage jihad in order to lead Islam to victory and free Jerusalem from what it says is a “Zionist-Crusader plot.” Abu Salim, who had been held under house arrest since the commencement of legal proceedings against him in 2010, also established a website, Muslim48, designed to spread Ansar Allah’s teachings to a worldwide audience.

Abu Salim expressed solidarity with al-Qaida and on several occasions encouraged violence.

Ansar Allah has as its symbol a globe in the shape of the Dome of the Rock topped by a black flag, an emblem identified both with the Taliban and with the radical Islamist ideologies of the Salafist movement.

A group of worshipers at Abu Salim’s mosque were influenced by the extreme Islamist ideologies expounded upon in his publications.

The group went on to commit violent acts against Christians and Jews – including murdering a Jewish taxi driver and attacking Christians.

Other worshipers had become determined to join al-Qaida’s global jihad and further ones had begun hoarding weapons, aiming to use them against Israeli soldiers.

Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger