'Regretful' Israeli Arab who fought with ISIS gets 22 months in jail

23-year-old Ahmed Shurbaji was charged with illegal infiltration and taking part in illegal military training.

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November 3, 2014 14:35
1 minute read.
ISIS militant

ISIS militant. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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An Israeli who spent months in Syria training and fighting with the Islamic State group was sentenced on Monday to 22 months in prison, on charges of illegal infiltration and taking part in illegal military training.

Ahmed Shurbaji, a 23-year-old native of Umm el-Fahm, left Israel on January 16 to join the jihad against the Assad regime, entered Turkey and, along with fellow fighters, was smuggled into Syria a few days later, the indictment states.

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Shurbaji confessed that shortly after his arrival in Syria, he joined the rebel’s Army of Muhammad Brigade, and spent week training with them, the indictment says.

When the training was over he joined Islamic State. He took part in small arms warfare training and regular physical fitness drills, as well as religious courses and training with the AK-47 and rocket propelled grenades, the indictment states.

He fought in two gun battles and manned a checkpoint, and carried out regular patrols meant to stop the advance of regime forces. The indictment also says that on April 16, while still in Syria, Shurbaji contacted an Israeli security official and told him that he made a mistake and would like to return. He told the official that he didn’t have a passport and needed to return, and asked for help. He arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on April 20 and was immediately arrested.

In the introduction to his indictment, the state wrote how the phenomenon of Israeli citizens making their way to Syria to join the jihad “includes a real danger that the same military training and indoctrination that they go through there will be exploited by them in order to carry out hostile attacks against the Israelis establishment.”

It described the fear that they will be used to gather intelligence on Israeli targets for future attacks.



Prosecutors originally asked for a sentence of between three and four years, but Shurbaji, who was convicted in late September, had no prior criminal record and confessed to the charges, was given a more lenient sentence.

Over the past couple of years there have been repeated cases of Israeli Arabs traveling to Syria by way of Turkey to join anti-regime forces. Many of them only stayed for a matter of days before regretting their decisions and coming back, unlike Shurbaji who was in the country for three months.

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