Arab-Israeli Indicted for Joining ISIS

Resident of northern Israel spent several days in Syria, where he allegedly trained with ISIS in torture, weapons and physical fitness.

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Hamza Magamseh, 22, on the backdrop of the Israel-Syria border.Credit: Shin Bet security service/ Gil Eliyahu

The Northern District prosecutor filed an indictment against a Yafia resident for allegedly joining ISIS while he was abroad.

Hamza Magamseh, 22, confessed while being interrogated by the Shin Bet security service that he traveled to Syria via Turkey last month in order to join ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL. Several months ago the accused allegedly made contact with the terror group through its main Facebook page.

He reportedly told an ISIS activist that he was from Palestine and was interested in going to Syria to join the organization, and noted that he had learned via a video clip how to infiltrate into Syria from the Turkish region of Antab.

Magamseh and his friends – Mahmad Tzaber Kananeh and Mahmad Marouan Kilani – left Israel on October 5 for Turkey, and then crossed the border into Syria, where they reported to an ISIS induction base. From that base they were transferred to a training camp where they took lessons on torture, weapons and physical fitness.

They allegedly also met at the camp Mahran Yusef Khaldi, a 19-year-old Nazareth resident who had gone to Turkey a few days before they had and also went from there to join ISIS. After some 10 days, Magamseh decided to return to his family in Israel. He returned to Turkey, from where he flew back to Israel. He was arrested upon his return at Ben-Gurion International Airport and was transferred somewhere else for interrogation.

The indictment filed Sunday includes charges of making contact with a foreign agent, joining an outlawed organization, making contact to carry out a crime and illegally exiting Israel.

Hazen Youssef, Magamseh's public defender, said the accused was in Syria for only a few days. "During his stay, he solely underwent sports training," said Youssef. "Within a short while he understood the mistake he had made and returned on his own initiative."

Israel recently declared ISIS an outlawed organization. The indictment is the first such one attributing the offense of belonging to the organization to an Israeli citizen who went to Syria and joined ISIS.

About a week ago, an appeal was made to the District Court in Haifa regarding the 22-month sentence that Umm Al-Fahm resident Ahmed Shurbaji, 22, received after he joined ISIS in Syria and fought with the terror group for three months. Shurbaji also received a 12-month suspended sentence after he confessed to illegally exiting Israel and engaging in illicit military training.

The prosecution argued that the sentence Shurbaji received did not reflect the gravity of his offenses, nor society's cultural values. "In light of the culture, the incidents and growth of this dangerous and worrying phenomenon, the court should raise the punishment ceiling in cases such as this one," the prosecution wrote. "The changing reality requires a punitive response in line with reality."

The prosecution demanded increasing Shurbaji's sentence to three to four years.