An Israeli man has been in detention since mid-July for allegedly joining the ranks of rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israeli security forces announced Wednesday.
Abed al-Kader Afif Abed al-Kader Altelah, a 26-year-old Israeli-Arab from the city of Taibe in the north, was indicted earlier this month for illegal contact with a foreign agent and unlawfully exiting the country.
According to Shin Bet security investigators, Altelah, who had been studying pharmaceutics in Jordan, became acquainted with Iraqi and Palestinian students, supporters of the Salafi organization Jihadiyya — an ideological movement considered highly influential among al-Qaeda operatives.
Altelah, the investigators said, became radicalized by the Salafi supporters, some of whom had ties to Sunni rebels fighting in Syria. He then decided to cross the northern border into Syria in order to assist the rebels in their battle against regime forces.
Investigators said that Altelah had confessed to approaching a representative of Jabhat al-Nusra, a rebel organization with links to al-Qaeda, and later joining their ranks.
The Shin Bet said Altelah spent a total of one week in Syria.
No further details of Altelah’s activities or on how he was arrested were provided by the security agency.
In April, Hikmat Masarwa, 29, also of Taibe, was indicted for similar charges regarding his alleged assistance of Syrian rebel fighters.
According to investigators, Masarwa, who had crossed the Turkish border into Syria, took part in the establishment of a military training base.
Masarwa was later asked by members of the Free Syrian Army to carry out a suicide attack near the Israeli border, Channel 2 News reported. He reportedly refused the request and decided to leave Syria, but remained in contact with the rebel cell.
Masarwa was arrested less than a week and a half later upon landing in Israel.