AN ISIS member rides on a rocket launcher in Raqqa in Syria two months ago.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Security forces arrested an Arab-Israeli resident of Nazareth last month for going to Iraq to fight alongside Islamic State, the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) said Sunday.
According to the domestic intelligence agency, the suspect, Maharan Yussuf Khaladi, 20, was arrested upon his return at Ben-Gurion Airport, and subsequently confessed during questioning to fighting with Islamic State.
Before deciding to join the terrorist organization, Khaladi viewed Islamic State videos on the Internet which “influenced him deeply,” the Shin Bet added.
On October 2 last year, he flew to Anatolia, Turkey, and stayed in the Kamer Hotel, where he contacted an Islamic State operative on Facebook and received instructions on how to cross over into neighboring Syria with the help of an Islamic State smuggler.
On October 6, Khaladi met with Islamic State representatives in Syria, who directed him to an absorption camp, where he met three Arab-Israeli residents of Yafia in northern Israel, including Hamaz Majamasa, who recently returned to Israel and is in the custody awaiting trial at the Nazareth District Court for a range of severe terrorism offenses.
Khaladi allegedly underwent three weeks of firearms and physical training, carried out guard duty, and then sought to join an elite Islamic State unit. He was stationed in the region of Fallujah in Iraq, where he received further firearms training, and was then sent to take part in combat, the Shin Bet said.
“Khaladi took part in five battles in the Fallujah area, and in the last battle he planted explosives against Shi’ite forces. He was seriously wounded, apparently in a coalition air strike. Some of his friends in the force were killed,” the agency added.
Khaladi spent the next three weeks recovering at a Fallujah hospital under Islamic State control. He then returned to Syria to meet with relatives.
The Shin Bet warned that the phenomenon of Arab Israelis traveling to combat arenas in Syria and Iraq is an extremely dangerous development, due to the presence of hostile jihadist elements.
Volunteers undergo military training and receive exposure to radical jihadist ideology, the Shin Bet said.
“There is a concern that they will be exploited by terrorist elements to carry out military activity against the State of Israel and/or gather information on targets in Israel,” it said.
The Northern District Attorney’s Office on Sunday filed an indictment with the Nazareth District Court with offenses that include membership in and activity with an illegal organization, contact with a foreign agent, military training, illegal travel abroad, and handling of terrorism-related equipment.
On Thursday, security forces revealed that an Arab-Israeli resident of Kafr Yasif was arrested on January 2 on suspicion of fighting with rebels in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria.
The suspect was named as Amin Ahmed Salah Snobar, 24. He was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport after returning from Syria via Turkey.
During questioning, the Shin Bet said, Snobar confessed to leaving Israel for Turkey on July 7, 2014, and continuing on to Syria to join the rebels fighting the Assad regime.
According to an indictment filed on Thursday, jihadist elements in Syria urged him to return to Israel and carry out terrorist attacks from within the country.
Snobar allegedly arrived at a Syrian base belonging to the Ansar al-Sham rebel group, and later spent time at the headquarters of Jabhat al-Nusra as well, undergoing military training with both organizations.
The Shin Bet said Snobar received weapons and bomb-making training and underwent fitness training, before taking on missions on behalf of the organizations.
After spending six months in Syria, he decided to return to his family, retracing his path to Turkey, and from there, boarding a flight to Israel, where he was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport.Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.