Negev Bedouin Charged With Planning to Smuggle Tunisian Jihadist Into Israel

Mohammad Elassam, 22, of Tel Sheva was also charged with joining a Salafist organization.

FILE PHOTO: Bedouin town of Rahat's market
Ilan Assayag

A Bedouin student from the Negev town of Tel Sheva was indicted on Monday for planning to help a jiihad activist from Tunisia to infiltrate into Israel.

The student, Mojammad Elassam, 22, was charged in the Be’er Sheva District Court with assisting an enemy and conspiracy to commit a crime.

According to the charge sheet, Elassam contacted jihadists from Arab countries while working as a substitute teacher in the town and agreed to smuggle one of them into Israel. He was also charged with joining a Salifist jihadist organization.

Elassam was arrested three weeks ago while on his way back to Israel from Jordan. He admitted under interrogation by the police and Shin Bet security service to agreeing to help a jihadist from Tunisia to infiltrate into Israel and carry out military activity.

Tuman Abu Rakeik, the head of the Tel Sheva council, told Haaretz that he was not aware of the affair before the gag order was lifted. “Of course we condemn this kind of phenomenon. We have veru good coexistence in the country and I always support coexistence.” Rakeik said he knew the family of Elassam, but not the suspect himself. Nor did he know in which school the suspect had served as a substitute teacher.

Two weeks ago, the Be’er Sheva court sentenced a teacher from the Bedouin community of Hura to four years in prison for trying to join ISIS in Syria and encouraging support of the Islamist organization in sermons he gave at a local mosque.