Two cousins from northern Israel were indicted Thursday for seeking to join the Islamic State group in Syria and then planning an attack on IDF soldiers in Israel. The Shin Bet security service says both have confessed.
Ahmed Talal Sa’ida, 20, of Umm al-Ghanam and Mohammed Omar Bader Hassan, 23, of Reineh followed the Islamic State on Facebook for about a year, according to the indictment filed in the Nazareth District Court.
They watched videos produced by the group that demonstrated how to use weapons and how to behead someone with a sword. They also viewed clips on the Islamic State group’s battles in Syria.
They then decided to go to Syria to join the group. To this end, they sought help from two people – a former resident of Nazareth who had already gone to Syria to fight for ISIS and a Syrian.
In May, the cousins went to Turkey to attempt to cross the border. After landing, they met with an Islamic State smuggler who was supposed to get them over the border into Syria. But due to insistent pleading by their families, they eventually changed their minds and returned to Israel in June.
But even after returning, Hassan remained in contact with an Islamic State operative in Iraq.
In early November, the cousins met at Sa’ida’s workplace in Daburiyya and discussed an attack they planned against Israeli soldiers at Golani Junction.
Sa’ida then contacted Saher Sa’ida of Umm al-Ghanam and asked for help in buying a gun, “saying he wanted to prepare for Judgment Day, when the Islamic State would arrive in Israel,” the indictment stated.
Both men are charged with supporting an illegal organization, contact with a foreign agent, attempting to leave the country illegally and conspiracy to commit a crime. In addition, Sa’ida is charged with weapons offenses, shooting in a residential area and driving under the influence of drugs.
The additional charges against Sa’ida stem from other incidents. In one, he was out driving with a friend, a career soldier, and fired a shot from his friend’s pistol on the outskirts of a village. In another, he used the friend’s gun to fire in the air at a wedding. Hassan has a criminal record; he was convicted of trespassing and theft a year ago.
The Shin Bet, which interrogated both men, said in its request to detain them until the end of the trial that both had confessed to the charges. It said other evidence included further incriminating statements, both written and taped, from the defendants, as well as Islamic State pictures from their Facebook accounts and phones.
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