Islamic State is known to draw volunteers from across the globe. A court case on Tuesday reveals that their allure has reached Israel’s Arab population as well.

Arab Israelis riot in Umm-el-Fahm. (Photo: Omar Samir/Flash90)

Arab Israelis riot in Umm-el-Fahm. (Photo: Omar Samir/Flash90)

A court in Haifa on Tuesday found Ahmed Shurabaji guilty of joining and training with terrorist organizations in Syria, including the infamous Islamic State (IS or ISIS).

Shurabaji, a 23-year-old from the Arab city of Umm-el-Fahm in northern Israel, entered Syria illegally via Turkey earlier this year. An Israeli citizen, he used this route in an attempt to deceive security forces monitoring terrorist activities in the region. Three more Israeli Arabs had used similar tactics and joined him in Syria.

Shurabaji first joined the “Jeish Muhammad” (Muhammad’s army) rebel faction. He trained with them for a week and was then recruited by IS, which gave him theoretical and practical training, indoctrination lessons and target practice.

Shurabaji actively participated in several battles in Syria. He returned to Israel at the end of April through Ben-Gurion Airport, where he was arrested by the authorities.

Chief of Staff Gantz (L), Minister of Defense Ya'alon (C) and commander of the IDF Southern Command Turgeman (Photo: Judah Ari Gross/IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (L), Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon (C) and commander of the IDF Southern Command Shlomo Turgeman (Photo: Judah Ari Gross/Flash90)

Clear Threat to Israeli Security

Shurabaji’s lawyers tried various legal maneuvers to defend their client during the trial, including an attempt to claim that training with IS did not endanger Israel’s security and was intended for use against another country. The court convicted him, stating:

“Military training in an enemy state in general, and especially in Syria with ISIS, consists of a criminal offense against state security and intrinsically poses a dire threat to Israel’s security.”

The court further noted that the knowledge, ideology and accumulated military capabilities imported by the Arab Israelis returning from Syria who are not loyal to the State of Israel, together with the connections they forge with global Jihad organizations, pose a high risk for Israel’s security. “Even a potential risk requires that the state not only defend itself passively and wait for the threat to materialize,” the court stated.

IS is Illegal in Israel

Earlier this month, Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon signed an order officially outlawing IS in Israel. The signing of the declaration was done in accordance with the recommendation of the Shabak (Israeli Security Agency).

“This is being done for the sake of national security, public safety and public order,” the declaration stated.

Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel