ISIS in Israel

The detained cell focused on targetting Israeli Druse, considering them to be infidels or apostates according to the Salafist Sunni outlook to which the plotters subscribe.

January 21, 2015 20:50
3 minute read.
ISIS cell in Israel‏

Suspects arrested for allegedly setting up ISIS cell in Israel‏.. (photo credit: SHIN BET,Wikimedia Commons)


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The Shin Bet’s feat in ferreting out an Islamic State cell training for jihad in the Galilee failed to stay in the headlines for long. But the fact that such a cell organized, drilled and attracted recruits inside Israel is something that ought to rob us of peace of mind.

This is nothing to belittle and consign to the category of occasional oddities. Neither should the security forces’ achievement this time put our minds at ease.

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Each success per force raises the question of what other nefarious activity under our noses escapes under the radar. The very fact that Islamic State and allied radical Islamist outfits entice disciples within our borders should ring all our alarm bells.

This underlines the fact that we face much the same problem as do Europe, America and all Western democracies with large Muslim minorities.

Here too the Islamic State cause mesmerizes many potential adherents and here too zeal exists to follow its allure to the killing fields of Syria or do the organization’s bidding at home and kill in its name without crossing any international boundaries.

Unsurprisingly, the seven conspirators arrested in the Galilee – most of whom hail from Sakhnin – are said to have focused on Israeli Druse as their targets, considering them to be infidels or apostates according to the Salafist Sunni outlook to which the plotters subscribe.

For that purpose they not only sought to obtain firearms, they also slaughtered sheep to thereby gain expertise in decapitating their anticipated human victims.

No less worrisome is that the seven defy the conventional profiles of youths entranced by the notion of setting up an Islamic caliphate.

These were hardly the disaffected slum-dwellers who according to the West’s urban legends are the most likely candidates for radicalization. Indeed not all were even very young. They were led by a 40-year-old Nazareth attorney, Adnan Ala a-Din, a graduate of the prestigious Hebrew University Law School who had served as a public defender.

According to his indictment, he identified himself to his confederates as “a senior and official IS officer in Palestine.” He preached fanatical Islamic fundamentalism and urged that such beliefs be backed by “strong deeds” – i.e. terrorism against Israeli civilians. He introduced the slaughter of sheep into the curriculum.

The cell members maintained regular contact with Islamic State forces in Syria, including with Israeli Arabs who had joined them. Since the presence of Israelis in the Islamic State front lines was first reported in 2013, more and more such cases are coming to the fore and again they worryingly depart from the profile of upstart young enthusiasts.

Recently, police arrested Dr. Omar Musa Abu Kush, a physician from the Israeli-Beduin village of Arara.

He had consorted with Islamic State representatives in Jordan and was about to depart for Syria to serve in the Islamic State ranks.

This has already been done by Dr. Othman Abu Alkayan from the neighboring Israeli-Beduin village of Hura. Alkayan, a resident at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, was killed in action in Syria last summer.

There have been other Arab-Israeli casualties as well.

The bottom line is that Israel faces dangers not unlike those of the rest of the democratic world, although in our case there is more passion to the intent to not only “liberate” Syria.

These Arab-Israeli volunteers are part of the spiraling radicalization of parts of their communities, as evidenced among things by the Islamic garb women wear to avoid harassment and ostracism. To be sure, the vast majority of Israeli Arabs are loyal and law-abiding citizens who contribute to the country. But Israel’s Arab sector is facing a threat from within of which too few of us are aware. Moreover, many Israelis do not want to know, especially if the fanaticism appears directed outward – to Syria, for example.

The phenomenon of local Arabs volunteering to fight alongside the jihadist forces may be small in terms of overall population proportions, but the fact that it at all exists and the context in which it is steadily sprouting is nothing we can afford to scoff at.

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