A member of a militia kneels as he celebrates victory next to a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by ISIS militants.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Four residents of east Jerusalem were indicted by The Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Friday for plotting and participating in terrorist activities, providing aid to a foreign terrorist organization and for attempting to illegally exit the country to join a terrorist group.
The four defendants, aged 20-25, had pledged their support to join ISIS. Their radical ideology became action after they established of a study group, which met several times each week and intensely studied the teachings of the Islamic State so they would be prepared to join.
The investigation revealed that the group often praised ISIS and had taught that the Islamic State's practice of Islam is the most righteous way according to Islam. These meetings often took place in the cemetery in the neighborhood of Sur Baher, or in the home of one of the suspects, Lukman Atun. During these meetings, the defendants would watch videos of Islamic State sermons and killings. In addition, the defendants attempted to spread ISIS ideology to others, and had provided counsel to other locals on how they should prepare themselves to leave to Syria.
Atun had stated that he had intended to remain in Jerusalem in order to carry out attacks in Israel near foreign embassies. Atun also said that he had gathered money for these attacks by asking for donations from young students he had taught. Atun had also asked fellow defendant Abed al-Rahman Abu Tir, to travel to Syria and ask organizing members of ISIS to send money and weapons back to east Jerusalem to be used for attacks.
Atun flew to Turkey in June of 2005, and met with a smuggler who was supposed to grant him access to Syria. The smuggler asked Atun for a payment of $2,000, but Atun could not pay the amount and subsequently returned to Israel after several days.
In February, Abed al-Rahman Abu Tir was arrested by police at Ben Gurion Airport after he had attempted to board a plane to Turkey with approximately $3,000 dollars in cash on his person.
A third man, Sal Tarsan, had planned to travel to Syria in January 2016, and opened a new e-mail account in order to correspond with ISIS members in Syria. Tarsan's father had discovered his email and travel plans and prevented him from traveling.
The investigation was conducted by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police.
Israeli security officials say a few dozen Israeli Arabs have left to fight alongside Islamic State in Syria, usually traveling through Turkey or Jordan.
According to a new report by The Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Islamic State has launched a media campaign releasing a series of videos in support of terror attacks and encouraging Palestinians to carry out more.
Islamic State does not have an operational presence on the ground in Israel, but its propaganda over the Internet has proved influential, with a handful of Israelis joining the fundamentalist movement in recent months.Ariel Ben Solomon and Daniel J. Roth contributed to this report.