Israeli Arab Indicted for Fighting for Rebels in Syria

Taibeh resident allegedly contacted a jihadi organization after becoming more radical during his studies in Jordan; he was indicted two weeks ago.

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A Taibeh resident was arrested in mid-July after going to Syria to join the rebel forces, a gag order lifted Wednesday revealed.  Abd al-Kadr Altaleh was indicted two weeks ago in the Lod District Court for contacting a foreign agent and making an illegal visit abroad, 

The July 14 arrest was a joint operation between Israel’s security services and police. Altaleh, 26, was a pharmacy student in Jordan; during his studies he met Iraqis and Palestinians whom the Shin Bet security service said introduced him to the Salafi movement. Salafi philosophy forms the basis of Al-Qaida ideology.

Shin Bet officials say that under the influence of the Iraqi and Palestinian students, Altaleh began to espouse Salafi ideology and became more religious. They say that under interrogation, Altaleh admitted to going to Syria to join the battle against the Syrian army. There he allegedly approached a member of the Al-Nusra Front, a jihadi organization, and joined up.

"There is a great danger of Arab Israelis going to Syria," a Shin Bet spokesman said. He said the combination of exposure in Syria to forces hostile to Israel, military training and jihadi ideology made Israeli Arabs vulnerable to being used for information on targets in Israel. Israeli Arabs might even be recruited to carry out terror attacks against Israel, the Shin Bet says.

Fighting in Syria near the border with Israel. Credit: Gil Eliyahu

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