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2 Israeli Arabs charged with trying to join Islamic State

One of the men from northern Israel is also charged with illegal arms possession, selling guns

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Image posted on a militant website on January 14, 2014, shows Islamic State fighters marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP/Militant Website)
Image posted on a militant website on January 14, 2014, shows Islamic State fighters marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP/Militant Website)

Two Arab men from northern Israel have been charged with supporting the Islamic State, with each of them separately making plans to join the jihadist group in Syria.

Abed al-Fatah, 24, from Nazareth, visited jihadist websites, expressed support for the terror group online, and discussed joining the Islamic State with his friends, according to court documents.

Earlier in 2016, according to a charge sheet, Fatah also contacted a former Islamic State fighter and made plans to join the group in Syria after he got married.

The second man, Ashraf Arbe’e, 35, from nearby Shfaram, also made contact this year with a jihadist known to help people enter Islamic State-controlled territory, according to Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency, which arrested the two would-be jihadists.

Arbe’e is also accused of illegal arms possession and selling guns.

The prosecution has asked a judge at an arraignment hearing to order the two kept in jail until the end of legal proceedings.

Over the past several years, the number of Palestinian and Israeli Arab volunteer recruits has increased among Syrian rebel groups. The Shin Bet believes that more than 40 Israeli Arabs have joined the Islamic State in the last two years.

Hamis Adnan Hamis Salameh, 21, of Ramle, who was indicted on August 13, 2015, after allegedly attempting to join the Islamic State group in Syria (Shin Bet)
Hamis Adnan Hamis Salameh, 21, of Ramle, who was indicted on August 13, 2015, after allegedly attempting to join the Islamic State group in Syria (Shin Bet)

In May, Hamis Salameh, 21, from Ramle, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for trying to join the Islamic State in Syria.

In April, Amin Snobar, 24, from Kafr Yasif in the Upper Galilee, was sentenced to five years in prison after he traveled to Syria to join the al-Nusra Front and fight against President Bashar Assad’s regime. This was the most severe sentence thus far given to an Israeli citizen involved in the Syrian civil war.

In July 2015 five Israeli Arabs, including two teachers, were indicted for supporting the Islamic State group and promoting jihadist ideology in their classes.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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