Two Israeli Arabs Charged for Joining ISIS

Both intended to commit terror act then join Islamic State forces in Syria.

Arrest (illustration)
Olivier Fitoussi

The Central District Prosecutor filed an indictment Wednesday in Lod District Court against two Israeli Arabs for joining the Islamic State organization.

The first defendant, A. A., 24, from the center of the country, is accused of contact with a foreign agent and numerous offenses of conspiracy to commit a crime.

The second defendant, B. B., 48, who is also from the center of the country but resides abroad, is accused of similar offenses as well as relaying information and abetting contact with a foreign agent, leaving the country unlawfully and membership in a banned organization. The two are related, but no further personal details may be publicized.

According to the first indictment, from about March 2015 A. A. began identifying ideologically with ISIS and its jihad in Syria and other places. Around the same time, B. B. began describing himself as an ISIS fighter on his Facebook account, and published statements of solidarity with terror attacks committed in Israel against Israelis, including the one carried out by Nashat Melhem on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.

B. B. also began corresponding with a relative called Abu Khattab al-Maqdasi, who informed him that he’d decided to depart for Syria, via Turkey, and to join ISIS forces there. B. B. decided to aid al-Maqadasi and found for him a local border smuggler from Istanbul who helped him infiltrate into Syria.

In their correspondence, B. B. expressed his own readiness to go to Syria and join ISIS, and also proposed committing a terror attack in his place of residence abroad. B. B. and al-Maqdasi exchanged information about various possible targets for the proposed terror attack, including a Shi’ite mosque, places frequented by Western tourists and two Israeli targets.

For the purpose of the attack, al-Maqdasi wanted to refer to the accused to ISIS members abroad who would help him acquire weapons, and also sent him instructional videos on how to make explosive devices, firebombs and silencers.

Al-Maqdasi also contacted A. A. and offered to help him get into Syria too. In February 2016, in a phone call between the two, the accused agreed to commit a terror attack against Israelis in Israel, and then flee and join al-Maqdasi in Syria. As part of this plan, the accused agreed with al-Maqdasi that the latter would direct him to ISIS members in the West Bank, who would arm him with a machine gun, bombs and explosives and help him find someone to smuggle him from Turkey to Syria. A. A. was arrested on February 14 in Qalqilyah, and B. B. was arrested shortly afterwards by the local police where he lives abroad and extradited to Israel.

The indictment lists three further charges that relate solely to A. A. One says that in November 2015 he met with a resident of Qalqilyah and the two tried to buy a Carl Gustav rifle to use to shoot Palestinian Authority officials, on behalf of ISIS.

Another charge says that A. A. met with another Palestinian and intended to commit a terror attack with him either in the West Bank or in Israel, on an as yet undecided target, by means of a car bomb, as an ISIS action. The final charge relates to a meeting that A. A. held in April 2015 with two Palestinians, during which the three decided to join ISIS and seriously discussed various ways of accomplishing this. The prosecution wants to keep the two in custody until the conclusion of their legal proceedings.