ISIS fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Wissam Zubidat, a resident of Sakhnin in the Lower Galilee, was sentenced by the Haifa District Court on Thursday to five years in prison for joining Islamic State in Iraq with his wife and children.
The punishment is the most severe ever given to an Israeli citizen for joining ISIS.
In June 2015, Zubidat traveled with his wife and three children, then aged eight, six and three, to Romania, where they left their phones to avoid being tracked, and continued to Turkey.
From Turkey the family headed to Mosul in Iraq. There, Zubidat attended ISIS basic training, in which he pledged allegiance to the Sunni terrorist organization, and followed “ideological and religious studies,” according to Thursday’s verdict. There, Zubidat received an AK-47 assault rifle, ammunition and other equipment.
During his period as an ISIS combat soldier, Zubidat was involved in several battles against the Iraqi Army, and took part in digging an underground bunker. In early 2016, Zubidat was wounded in the leg during an exchange of fire with the Iraqi Army.
While Zubidat was fighting, his wife, Sabreen, was working at a hospital in Mosul, and their children attended school.
The family decided in July 2016 to return to Israel. After 10 attempts to cross the border from Syria to Turkey, they were caught by the Turkish police, who handed them over to Israel.
Zubidat was convicted in Israel in June 2017 of contacting a foreign agent, taking part in a terrorist organization, taking part in forbidden military training and other felonies.
Last March, Sabreen was sentenced to 50 month in prison. According to the verdict, Wissam was “dominant” in the crimes he and his wife committed, because he was taking part in military activity for ISIS.
The judges said in the verdict that the damage potential of Zubidat’s felonies was large, and that joining an extremist terrorist organization could pose a real danger to the security of the State of Israel.