Israel Sentences Bedouin Teacher Who Tried to Fight for ISIS to Four Years

Israeli Arab who encouraged support for Islamist group in local mosque had planned to go to Saudi Arabia and then proceed to Syria.

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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Islamic State militants passing by a convoy in Tel Abyad, northeast Syria, May 4, 2015.
Islamic State militants passing by a convoy in Tel Abyad, northeast Syria, May 4, 2015.Credit: AP
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

The Be'er Sheva District 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.

Mohamed Abu Kian was convicted of conspiracy, attempted membership in an illegal association and attempted illegal departure to a foreign country. He was also convicted for showing two people, one of them a 15-year-old boy, ISIS videos in an attempt to recruit them in the summer of 2014.

Abu Kian confessed that he had established a secret cell holding covert meetings, and that he had planned together with companions to leave for serious and to fight alongside ISIS, according to the ruling.

In March, he recruited Isa Abu Kian, another resident of Hura, and later asked Shereef Abu Kian to join them. The three took out passports and planned to leave for Saudi Arabia during Ramadan. They planned to stay one day, look for a hiding place and make contact with people that would help them reach Syria, but the plan was foiled when the three were arrested in June.

The trials of Shereef and Issa Abu Kian are still in proceedings.

Between the end of 2013 and his arrest in June, Mohamed Abu Kian delivered sermons in gatherings of ISIS supporters held in a Hura mosque. Uman Abu Kian, a medical resident at Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center, also attended these meetings. He eventually joined the ranks of ISIS in Syria, where he was killed.

Mohamed Abu Kian began delivering sermons in a mosque in Hamzeh during Friday prayers starting last January. Some of his sermons were about ISIS, and he asserted the organization's activities do not deviate from Islam.

District judge Yoel Eden wrote in his ruling that Abu Kian's actions had been consistent over a long period. "We're not talking about a one-off blunder but rather preaching, meetings, showing films and holding conversations whose goal was support in the organization that is a terrorist organization," he stated.

According to the Southern District Attorney, Abu Kian's four-year punishment is a precedent. "The maximum punishment given so far for ISIS-related offenses was 42 months imprisonment against Maharan Khaldi in the Nazareth District Court," he said. "However, Khaldi was convicted of more serious crimes of contact with a foreign agent and forbidden military training."

Abu Kian's lawyer, Limor Logasi, commented, "We are studying the ruling and will probably file an appeal."

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