The Bedouin Israeli man who killed an IDF soldier and wounded 11 in a shooting attack Sunday in Beersheba was enamored of the Islamic State jihadist group, a friend said Monday.
“His faith was very strong… and Islamic State was for him [the subject of] very strong faith,” a friend who worked with the terrorist Muhanad Alukabi told Channel 2.
“He would pray, at every prayer [time] he would run to pray. He said he believes, and this [Islamic State] will be a big thing, that they will come here and conquer and he believes in them, that’s what he always said,” the friend added.
Alukabi, 21, a resident of an unrecognized tent encampment near the Bedouin village of Hura in the Negev, was shot dead in a firefight with security forces after shooting and killing 19-year-old Omri Levy and wounding 11 others at the Beersheba central bus station.
While Alukabi’s relatives and leaders of the Bedouin community have condemned the Beersheba terror attack, his father said his son was killed for no reason.
“Muhanad was executed in the field and anything connecting him to this thing in Beersheba we don’t know anything about. My son was executed,” Khalil Alukabi told a press conference outside his home on Monday.
“We don’t educate toward violence,” he told the news site Maariv. “Despite the reports in the media, he had no connection to Islamist groups.”
Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls some one-third of Syria and Iraq, has turned its attention in recent days to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, praising Palestinian terrorists who have stabbed and rammed Israelis in recent weeks.
A series of videos glorifying the wave of attacks was released Sunday by the group, an unusual step for the extremist organization, which tends to steer clear of commenting on the situation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The videos, bearing such titles as “Project Behead the Jews” and “Message to the Mujahedin in Jerusalem,” were uploaded from sites under Islamic State control in Syria and northern Iraq. Some of the videos spread on social media and were accompanied by the hashtag #BeheadtheJew.
“I recommend that you take the path of Jihad, which God tells you to follow, I bless this jihad against the Jews. Strike fear in their hearts, they are the enemies of God,” a fighter said in one of the videos, according to a translation by the i24 news site.
“A victory is coming to the mujahedin of the Al-Aqsa [Mosque] from above, you are the ones who start but we will continue it,” another Islamic State member said, holding an automatic rifle.
In another one of the videos, a fighter criticized Hamas and Fatah for not taking enough action against the Jews in Israel. “Both [Palestinian groups] only care about their own interests and some are even agents of the crusaders and the Jews,” one man said.
“Hurry up and save your brothers, don’t wait for the Arab leaders to help you.”
The videos also seemed to highlight the rift between the Islamic State and Gaza-based Hamas Islamist group. “We will uproot Hamas and the secular factions,” another fighter would be heard saying in a different video. “We take you to task. Hamas and all secular factions will surrender to our will and Sharia law will be the rule in Gaza.”
Earlier this month, Israeli security forces arrested three people in northern Israel and accused them of plotting attacks for the Islamic State in August, according to the Shin Bet security service. A fourth, who is currently serving a life sentence in prison, was also charged with joining the organization, Israeli officials said, while three others were charged with aiding the terror cell.
Though Israeli security forces have claimed more than 40 Israeli citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State, that terror cell was the first IS affiliate discovered within Israel.