Israel Indicts Six for pro-ISIS Activity in Schools, on Facebook

The six allegedly preached doctrine to pupils and fellow teachers, tried to get relatives to join cell.

Shirly Seidler
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A file photo of an ISIS convoy driving on a road leading to Iraq.
A file photo of an ISIS convoy driving on a road leading to Iraq.Credit: AP
Shirly Seidler

The Shin Bet security service and Israel Police have arrested six residents of the Negev Bedouin village Hura, including four teachers at state schools, for allegedly setting up a local cell that supported ISIS (Islamic State) and preaching Islamist doctrine to their pupils and others. They also allegedly planned to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS forces.

According to the charge sheet, the teachers among them, who worked in Hura and the Bedouin city Rahat, exploited their position to convey radical messages to their pupils and fellow teachers, including drawing maps of a future Islamic empire and playing songs in praise of ISIS. The suspects also allegedly attended secret meetings at which the goals of ISIS were debated, and tried to persuade relatives to join the movement.

The investigation against them began in May and requests have been submitted to keep them detained until the end of legal proceedings. Until Monday the case was under a gag order.

The suspects, all from the Abu Alkian clan, are: Bashir Abu Alkian, 26, a teacher at the Hura elementary school; Akram Abu Alkian, 30, a teacher at the Rahat elementary school; Mahmoud Abu Alkian, 27, a teacher at Hura’s high school; Issa Abu Alkian, 27; Sharif Abu Alkian, 23; and Hamza Abu Alkian, 27, a teacher in Hura. They are being charged with supporting a terror group; possessing, disseminating and publicizing material of an illegal organization; and conspiring to commit a crime and to leave the country unlawfully.

The Shin Bet announcement said that along with those arrested, other teachers were questioned, as was the principal of one of the schools, who was suspected of knowing of his teachers’ pro-ISIS activities but took no action. The principal denied knowing anything about such activity.

According to the charge sheet, Muhammad Abu Alkian would often speak at the Hamzeh Mosque in Hura, and in several of his sermons he would speak in support of ISIS. The cell members also held secret meetings at which Muhammad served as a spiritual guide, providing information to participants, who included minors, about the organization.

Bashir Abu Alkian set up a Facebook page and an email address dedicated to disseminating content about ISIS and calls to support Al-Qaida to some 1,500 people. At one point he posted a video praising Osama Bin Laden but later took it down, after his family urged him to do so lest he lose his teaching job. At the beginning of 2014 he began attending religious classes at the Hamzeh Mosque in Hura, where he met the other suspects and other ISIS supporters, including a man who later joined the ISIS forces in Syria and was killed there.

As a result of the secret meetings, some of the cell members decided to travel to Syria and join ISIS. They planned to go to Saudi Arabia via Jordan during this year’s holy month of Ramadan by disguising themselves as religious pilgrims. They planned to contact ISIS activists in Saudi Arabia and join the organization through them.

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