Nazareth Resident Charged With Allegedly Joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Mahran Yusef Khaldi, 20, was charged on Sunday for membership in an illegal organization.

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Mahran Yusef Khaldi, an Israeli citizen charged with joining ISIS. He lost his left hand during the battles. Credit: Gil Eliyahu

The Shin Bet and Israel Police last month arrested a young Nazareth resident suspected of joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and traveling to Iraq and Syria for an extended stay, it emerged on Sunday after a gag order was lifted on the case.

Mahran Yusef Khaldi, 20, was charged on Sunday at the Haifa District Court for membership in an illegal organization.

An undated file photo posted on a militant website on Fri., Sept. 19, 2014, shows Islamic State group policemen standing guard in front of a police station in Nineveh province, Iraq.Credit: AP

Khaldi was arrested upon his return to Israel in early January, after three months abroad. He had traveled to Turkey in October 2014 and after making contact with an ISIS operative on Facebook was told how to cross the border to Syria with the assistance of smuggler from the militant organization, the Shin Bet said. He arrived at the ISIS offices and was transferred to an absorption camp, where according to the Shin Bet, met three other Israeli citizens from the village of Yafia: Mahmad Tzaber Kananeh, Mahmad Marouan Kilani and Hamza Magamseh.

Magamseh, who returned to Israel after about 10 days in Syria, is being held by Israeli authorities following his own indictment in November. He was charged with making contact with a foreign agent, joining an outlawed organization, making contact to carry out a crime and illegally exiting Israel.

According to the Shin Bet, Khaldi spent three weeks in the absorption camp and was then transferred for physical training and weapons training. After he received his certificate of placement, he requested to serve in a special unit stationed in Iraq in the Fallujah area. He underwent a quick weapons training and was then sent into battlefield.

He was seriously wounded during the fighting in Fallujah apparently in a U.S.-led air strike, the Shin Bet said. He was treated at an ISIS-controlled hospital in Fallujah and was permitted to return to Syria after three weeks of recovery to meet with his family.

Khaldi was charged with membership and activity in an illegal organization, contact with a foreign agent, military training, unlawful exit from Israel and operating in a terrorist entity. He confessed to fighting in Syria and Iraq and to being wounded there, but also said that he had regretted his decision and returned to Israel of his own rational will.

The Shin Bet said that like the other Israelis who had joined ISIS, Khaldi had been exposed to the organization through online videos and content.