The Haifa District Court sentenced 23-year-old Amin Snobar, a resident of the northern town of Kafr Yasif, to a maximum of five years in prison on Thursday for joining the Nusra Front terror group in Syria.
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Snobar was convicted of performing illegal military exercises, membership in an illegal organization, working for and serving an illegal organization and obstruction of justice.
According to the indictment served against Snobar, he left Israel for Turkey in July, 2015, before illegally crossing into Syria. Once in Syria, Snobar allegedly arrived at a training camp affiliated with the rebel militia group known as Ansar al-Sham. Snobar was said to have stayed with the group for some two weeks before requesting to join up with Nusra Front, which was officially declared an illegal organization by Israel last September.
Snobar joined Nusra Front in the beginning of August and functioned as a guard on a military base run by the group. Within the framework of his position, Snobar was trained, armed, given a uniform and carried out various services and orders in the name of Nusra Front.
According to the Shin Bet, Snobar underwent training that included "theoretical and practical lessons, including with guns, explosive charge preparation and physical fitness." During his service, Snobar was punished for a disciplinary offense and spent five days in prison in a cave.
The Judge Avraham Elikim wrote in his decision that after hearing all of the evidence and the positions of both sides, he was convinced that Nusra Front is a branch of Al-Qaida and that "it wasn't created just to fight the Assad regime; it is a militant Salafist jihadist Islamic organization, for which the overthrow of the Assad regime is part of its general plans in the region, with the goal of running an Islamic regime in the area, including in Israel, all while using violence in the name of achieving its goals."
Elikim explained his reasoning behind dealing out the maximum sentence for the charges, saying that "social values ... were harmed in committing the offense."
The judge also noted that despite Snobar's lack of a criminal record and a lack of proof that he intended to use the knowledge he acquired in Syria to harm Israel - the possibility of rehabilitation is not on the agenda.
According to Elikim, Snobar "participated in massive military exercises and returned to Israel of his own free will, as 'a ticking time bomb.' At any given moment, the accused could surprise, and utilize his ideological and military training in hostile terrorist activity, as others have done who returned from combat areas in Syria to realize an extremist, Salafist ideology in their countries of origin."
Namir Adelbi, Snobar's defense attorney, told Haaretz that "This is an unprecedented sentence when compared to the other sentences dealt to Israeli citizens who traveled to Syria. The court is influenced by the current atmosphere and did not give proper weight to the fact that this is a man who traveled to Syria one-and-a-half years ago, at a time when penalties imposed were lighter."
Snobar's case is not the first time an Israeli citizen has been convicted of joining one of the various terrorist groups in Syria. In January, the Be'er Sheva District Court sentenced Mohammed Abu Alqaeda, a teacher from Hura, to four years in prison for attempting to join the ranks of the Islamic State group in Syria and promoted support for the group in sermons given in his local mosque.
Abu Alqaeda was convicted of conspiracy, attempted participation in an illegal organization and illegal attempted departure to a foreign country.