Israeli Arab Charged With Joining Jihadi Groups in Syria

Amin Snobar, 23, allegedly spent months with the Nusra Front, guarding and carrying out operational activities.

Rami Chlouche

An Israeli citizen was arrested at the beginning of January, on suspicions he had undergone military training with the radical Islamic organizations Nusra Front and Ansar al-Sham in Syria, the Shin Bet security service revealed on Thursday.

Amin Snobar, a 23-year-old resident of the Israeli Arab village Kfar Yassif in the western Galilee, was indicted on Thursday on charges of belonging to an illegal organization, taking part in forbidden military exercises, providing services for an illegal organization and obstruction of justice. His training included “theoretical and practical” lessons, including weapons training, preparation of explosives and physical training, according to the chart sheet filed at the Haifa District Court.

Snobar allegedly arrived in Syria via Turkey in July 2014, said the Shin Bet. After six months in Syria, he decided to return home to his family. Snobar returned to Turkey and then flew to Israel, where he was arrested at Ben-Gurion International Airport and questioned by the Shin Bet upon his arrival on January 2.

He allegedly spent two weeks with Ansar al-Sham in a training camp, with the intention of joining the Nusra Front, which he eventually did in early August. He served with the group for the next few months - including guarding its headquarters and military camp while armed and in uniform. He also took part in the organization's operations and carried out other services for it, according to the indictment. He was even jailed by the organization for five days for a disciplinary infraction, during which he was kept in a cave. Details of his activities in the indictment include such activities as filling containers with explosives and unloading mortar shells.

Before his return, Snobar suspected that he was under surveillance by Israeli security authorities and allegedly erased his correspondence and other information from the period while he was in Syria, told his family to do the same, and destroyed his cell phone and its Sim card.

The State Prosecutor’s Office asked the court to remand Snobar until the end of the legal proceedings against him. The joint investigation was carried out by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police.

The jihadist Nusra Front organization is the official affiliate of Al-Qaida in Syria and was declared and illegal terrorist organization by Israel in September 2014. One of the organization’s declared goals is to attack and destroy Israel.

“The phenomenon of Israeli Arabs going to Syria is extremely serious and dangerous, as the Syrian theater is filled with organizations hostile to Israel, with an emphasis on the activists of the global jihad. These Israeli Arabs who go to this theater undergo military training and are exposed to extremist jihadist ideology, and could likely be exploited by terrorist organizations in this country both to carry out military operations against Israel and as a source for obtaining information on Israeli targets,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.