Israeli Arab, Wounded in Battle Over Mosul, Convicted of Joining ISIS

Defendant's wife was already sentenced to four years in prison after the couple and their children returned from Iraqi battle zone to Israel

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
Wissam Zabidat.
Wissam Zabidat.
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Wissam Zabidat, a resident of the northern Israeli Arab town of Sakhnin, who moved his family to the Iraqi city of Mosul, was convicted on Tuesday of joining ISIS. Zabidat’s wife, Sabareen, was sentenced in March to four years and two months in prison after she admitted in a plea agreement to having contact with a foreign agent, leaving the country illegally, membership in an illegal organization and membership in a terrorist organization. The plea agreement did not contain consent to her prison sentence.

The indictment against Wissam, 41, and Sabareen, 31 — filed in October in Haifa District Court — alleged that they and their children, aged 8, 6 and 3, moved to the Islamic State-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul and that Wissam Zabidat fought with ISIS at his wife’s urging. On arrival in Syria, the couple handed over their Israeli passports to ISIS and swore allegiance to the organization, according to the indictment.

The indictment goes on to allege that Wissam underwent military training and instruction on Muslim Sharia law and was then shot in the leg during the ISIS assault on the Iraqi village of Albu Risha. After being treated in the hospital, he returned to Mosul, to his family, which received living expenses from the Islamic State group. Sabareen Zabidat is said to have worked as a security camera operator at a hospital while the couple’s young children attended local schools or pre-schools.

In July of last year, the couple decided to return to Israel following the heavy aerial bombing of Mosul and because of problems providing an education to their children.

In his ruling in Sabareen Zabidat’s case, Haifa District Court Judge Avraham Elyakim said that her actions had caused harm to her children, “instead of seeing to it that they went to kindergarten or school, she took them to a battle zone .”

Sabareen Zabidat in court for sentencing on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

In her husband’s case, his lawyer, Elias Abo-Atta, said from the beginning, his client admitted to most of the allegations against him, including the move to Syria and Iraq and his participation in the fighting in which he was wounded. The lawyer disputed that his client’s actions constituted contact with a foreign agent, but acknowledged that the court found otherwise. Abo-Atta said he would await sentencing of his client before deciding on a possible appeal.

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