Israeli policemen during an arrest. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israeli policemen during an arrest. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Just days after the mass ISIS terror attacks in Paris, Israeli security forces revealed that they have caught a large ISIS cell in Israel.

Israeli security forces have arrested a six-member cell of Arabs with Israeli citizenship who had made plans to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization in Syria over the past month, the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) announced Wednesday.

A seventh member, of the cell, Nidal Hamed Salah, 23, had been successful in arriving in Syria and joining ISIS after paragliding into Syria from the Golan Heights in late October.

The aspiring terrorists, all residents of the town of Jaljulia in their twenties planned to follow Salah, but were arrested by Israeli security forces before they had the chance.

Salah’s flight to Syria prompted an investigation, which led to the exposure of the cell.

Two brothers, Jihad Hagla, 26, and Ehab, 22, known ISIS supporters, were arrested the night Salah fled to Syria.

Jihad had fought with ISIS in Syria for a half a year during 2013. He was arrested on his return to Israel and was imprisoned until his release in November 2014.

The two admitted in their questioning to aiding Salah in his illegal escape to Syria. They chose to use a paraglider and not regular air transportation because they knew they would be flagged and stopped by Israeli security services. Jihad had experienced technical difficulties and failed to reach his destination in Syria.

The group also provided the Shin Bet with four other names of aspiring ISIS terrorists – Mohammed Oudeh, 28; Anas Nadal Yusef Hagla, 19; Mohammed Zakagti, 22; and Adnan Ismail Aynash, 21.

The group was led by Jihad Hagla, who provided Islamic religious classes and indoctrinated the group in ISIS ideology. They communicated through covert internet protocols.

At some point, the group decided to join ISIS in Syria, and some of them had plans to enter Syria through Turkey.

Two members of the cell did make it to Turkey, but failed to contact ISIS while there and returned to Israel.

The group was indicted at a court in Lod on Wednesday and was charged with maintaining contact with a foreign agent, conspiring to commit a crime, illegally exiting the country to an enemy country and aiding the illegal exiting of the country to travel to an enemy state.

Looming Threat Inside Israel

“The phenomenon of [citizens] leaving for Syria to join ISIS consists a considerable threat to state security, and extensive energy is invested in preventing it,” the Shin Bet said in a statement. It also said it was operating extensively to monitor and apprehend ISIS cells operating by Arabs within Israel.

Only recently, Israeli security forces arrested a three-member cell of Israeli Arabs who have planned attacks in Israel.

Israel estimates that some 50 Israeli Arabs have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq over the past two years. Ten of them have been arrested upon their return to the country.

Israeli security forces have also arrested several Palestinian and Israeli-Arab terror cells with connections to ISIS or that have been inspired by them.

Israel fears that Arabs returning to Israel from fighting with ISIS will use their experience to establish terror networks and commit attacks within Israel, or that Arabs in Israel will be inspired by ISIS, and especially via social media, and will work against the state and its citizens.

ISIS itself has issued two Hebrew-language propaganda videos in the past weeks threatening to slaughter Jews.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel 

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