Two Israeli Arab Women Sentenced to 4-5 Years in Prison for Conspiring With Islamic State

Two 20-year-old cousins from southern Israel are accused of contacting an ISIS agent over chat and planning an attack on Be'er Sheva's Ben-Gurion University

Tasnim and Rahma al-Assad in Be'er Sheva District Court, Be'er Sheva, Israel, April 16, 2019.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

A district court sentenced on Tuesday two Israeli Arab women to four and five years in prison, respectively, for conspiring with Islamic State and aiding the terror group in planning attacks in Israel.

The two cousins, Tasnim and Rahma al-Assad, 20, who are from Lakia in the south of Israel, were convicted in a plea bargain of contact with a foreign agent, preparation to commit an act of terrorism, criminal conspiracy among other offenses.

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According to the indictment against the two, which was filed last year, the  women were members of several Telegram chat groups associated with Islamic State and were in contact with agents of the group.

It also said that Tasnim was in communication with a man dubbed "Sheikh Qassem," who works on behalf of the organization and spoke to her about carrying out an attack in Israel. According to the bill, she expressed willingness to assist him.

"Sheikh Qassem" asked Tasnim to examine the entrance and exit points of Ben Gurion University, the central station in Be'er Sheva and another local college. Tasnim told him that she wouldn't recommend the station as a target, because many Muslims frequent it. 

She then told Rahma of the conversation, and the two toured the university and the college in order to collect information about the possibility of carrying out an attack via suitcases packed with explosives.

According to the indictment, the two came to the conclusion that it could not be executed because of campus security.

The Be'er Sheva district court judge determined that "The seriousness of the acts of the accused, which were meant to hurt state security and the public, cannot be disputed. The accused were ISIS activists, and it is a terror organization. Their actions, and their identification with this lethal group were expressed not only in the acts they planned to carry out but also in their attempts to convince other participants in Telegram groups of the truth that can be found in the way of ISIS. This reflects how committed the accused were to the lethal group."