Arab-Israeli Engineering Student Charged for Joining ISIS

August 13, 2015  

State prosecutors have formally issued charges against a 20-year-old resident of the central Israeli city of Ramle, for attempting to leave Israel illegally and join the ISIS terrorist group.

Arab-Israeli Khamis Salameh, an engineering student at the Kinneret College in northern Israel, tried to travel to Syria to join the ranks of the so-called “Islamic State.” Charges against him include attempting to leave the country illegally and establishing contact with a foreign agent.

Salameh admitted under interrogation to having been decided to join the jihadist group after viewing dozens of ISIS propaganda videos online over the past several months. 

He then made contact with two ISIS members via Twitter, according to the Shin Bet/Israel Security Agency, one of whom identified himself as a senior commander and instructed him on how to travel to join the group in Syria.

Salameh followed his instructions and traveled to Turkey, flying to Istanbul and from there traveling to the southern city of Adana, where he booked into a local hotel to await further instructions. However, just hours before he was scheduled to make contact again and cross the border into Syria, Salameh was arrested by Turkish police.

After several days in Turkish custody he was extradited back to Israel, where he is now due to stand trial.

He is the second Israeli citizen to be charged for attempting to join ISIS Thursday, after a 19-year-old Jerusalem resident was indicted in the capital.

That suspect, Faris Sharitah, also attempted to travel to Syria via Turkey – a popular conduit for would-be jihadists looking to join ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

It underscores the ongoing threat of radicalization among young Arab-Israeli Muslims, a number of whom are already known to have died fighting for ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria.

Last month, Israeli security services revealed they had broken up a major ISIS recruitment ring in southern Israel. The terrorist cell, based in the Negev Bedouin town of Hura, shockingly involved several teachers who used their positions to indoctrinate Muslim children.

The Israel Security Agency (ISA) noted that instances of Israeli Arabs traveling to fight in Syria pose a real security threat to the State of Israel.

“These (foreign) arenas are saturated with elements hostile to the State of Israel, particularly ‘global jihad’ operatives,” the agency said in a statement.

“Those Israeli Arabs who go out to those arenas undergo military training, instruction in extremist jihadist ideology, and there is concern that (if they return) they will be used by terrorists in the country to both carry out attacks against the State of Israel and/or gather intelligence on Israeli targets.”

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