Shin Bet Arrests Five Israeli Arabs Planning to Join ISIS in Syria

Defendants planned to join fighting through Turkey. Two of them related to Israeli Arab who paraglided across border into Syria three weeks ago.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
ISIS fighters in Raqqa, Syria.
ISIS fighters marching in Raqqa, Syria.Credit: AP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Five Israeli citizens were charged Wednesday morning after attempting to join ISIS fighters in Syria.

The Israeli Shin Bet security service begun investigating the activities of several citizens, residents of Jaljuliya, after Nadal Saleh paraglided across the border into Syria three weeks ago.

The five were identified as ISIS supporters, and one of them had even fought in past for the organization in Syria.

The Central District prosecutor filed an indictment against the accused in Lod on Wednesday. The indictment charges them with attempting to illegally leave the country to an enemy state and abetting another’s unlawful departure to an enemy state.

On the night Saleh crossed the border, two other Jaljuliya residents were arrested after the suspicion arose that they had helped him leave for Syria. The security services identified the two brothers, Jihad and Ihab Hogleh, as ISIS supporters.

Shin Bet officials stress that the older brother of the two, Jihad, spent half a year in Syria in 2013, fighting for ISIS. After returning to Israel, he was arrested and sentenced to prison, but he was released from jail about a year ago.

According to the Shin Bet, Nidal trained the last several months with Jihad in paragliding in order to leave for Syria. The Sin Bet announced that the two planned to make their way to Syria with the paraglide, after Jihad feared trying to leave through Ben-Gurion Airport due to his record and gathered he would not be able to leave Israeli territory.

Nidal’s crossing into Syria three weeks ago was the second time in which the two had tried to cross the border with a paraglide. It emerges from the Shin Bet announcement that a week before crossing the border the two had gone to the Golan Heights, but a technical problem in the paraglide ruined their plans, and they returned home.

The investigation revealed that another four Jaljuliya residents took religion lessons from Jihad, which included explanations on the way of ISIS and the need to help the organization’s efforts in Syria. They also planned to join the fight in Syria, but they thought to do so via Turkey. According to the Shin Bet, they planned to meet in Syria and created secret ways of communication.

In the end, only Nidal managed to escape.

“The phenomenon of leaving for Syria and joining ISIS constitutes a significant danger to state security and much effort is being made to prevent the departure of other citizens for Syria,” the Shin Bet announced.

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