Halil Adal Halil Halil, the suspect arrested by the Shin Bet for allegedly joining ISIS.
(photo credit: SHIN BET)
An Israeli Arab resident of east Jerusalem has been arrested for allegedly traveling to Syria to join the ranks of Islamic State before returning to Israel, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced Monday.
The Shin Bet said that the incident is an example of a troubling trend by which Israeli Arabs gain training in terrorist activities abroad and return to Israel with skills that could be used to carry out attacks within the borders of the Jewish state.
The Shin Bet and Israel Police arrested Halil Adal Halil Halil, 25, an Israeli citizen from A-Tur in east Jerusalem on March 1.
He had previously worked as a medical assistant at the Eitanim psychiatric hospital outside of Jerusalem.
According to the Shin Bet he admitted to his interrogators that, together with an associate, Muhammad Sami al-Aziz Abu Snina, he began planning to join Islamic State in Syria in August 2014, after having seen propaganda videos on the Internet.
As part of his preparations to travel to Syria to fight for Islamic State, Halil tried to get in shape by joining an exercise class at the Hebrew University’s Mt. Scopus campus in the capital. He told his family and his bosses at the hospital that he was interested in taking a vacation to make the Haj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He then bought a one-way ticket to Greece and from there flew to Istanbul to throw the Shin Bet off of his tracks so that he could join the Islamists.
Halil and Abu Snina left for Istanbul in January, making contact with an Islamic State operative over the Internet.
The fixer instructed the pair to arrive at a safe-house in the city of Urfa in southern Turkey, near the Syrian border.
Other potential Islamic State recruits from across the globe were at the apartment, including a man from Bangladesh and two other Israeli Arabs.
The enlistees were split up into groups of four or five and smuggled into Syria by Turkish smugglers working for Islamic State.
Halil returned to Israel several weeks later and the Shin Bet arrested him.
On Monday, Halil was indicted at the Jerusalem District Court on charges of attempting to join an illegal organization, attempting to contact a foreign agent and illegally leaving the country.
According to the Shin Bet, the incident demonstrates “the threat of Israeli citizens joining Islamic State after being exposed to propaganda distributed by the organization, especially on the Internet. Their return to Israel, after having gained knowledge and experience of warfare and carrying out terrorist acts constitutes a serious threat of terrorist attacks within Israel’s borders.”