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3 Arab Israelis arrested for alleged IS ties, plans to join jihadist group in Africa

Shin Bet says 21-year-olds from Umm al-Fahm sought to travel to Nigeria where ‘intense fighting’ occurs; Bedouin man planned to fight for group in Israel

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

This photo released by the Shin Bet security agency on August 15, 2022, shows Arab Israelis  Muhammad Farouk Yousef Agbaria and Abd al-Mahdi Masoud Muhammad Jabarin, who were arrested for alleged ties to the Islamic State jihadist group. (Shin Bet)
This photo released by the Shin Bet security agency on August 15, 2022, shows Arab Israelis Muhammad Farouk Yousef Agbaria and Abd al-Mahdi Masoud Muhammad Jabarin, who were arrested for alleged ties to the Islamic State jihadist group. (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security agency announced Monday that in recent weeks three Arab men were arrested for alleged affiliation with Islamic State and plans to fight with the jihadist group in Africa.

On July 14, Muhammad Farouk Yousef Agbaria and Abd al-Mahdi Masoud Muhammad Jabarin, both 21 from the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, were detained over their alleged plans to fly to Africa to fight alongside Islamic State, the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The Shin Bet said the pair were “closely monitored by security forces, given that they were identified to have extreme Salafi-jihadist ideologies.”

According to the Shin Bet, Agbaria and Jabarin consulted another Umm al-Fahm man, who recently returned to Israel from fighting with al-Qaeda in Africa, on how to travel there.

Agbaria separately contacted a local in Nigeria, in order to get directions to a district where “intense fighting by the organization” was taking place, the statement said.

Ahead of their planned trip to Africa, the pair also practiced shooting and “consumed extremist Islamic State content,” including beheading videos, the agency added.

Illustrative photo of a member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces removing an Islamic State flag in the town of Tabqa in Syria. (AFP Photo/Delil Souleiman)

In a separate case, a Bedouin man from a village in the Rafa’i’a area, east of Beersheba, was detained on July 22 for alleged affiliation with Islamic State.

In his interrogation, Muhammad al-Rafa’i’a, 30, admitted he supported Islamic State and its goals, and sought to fight for the group in Israel, the Shin Bet said.

Al-Rafa’i’a also conducted shooting practice for the purpose of fighting for the jihadist group “when the time comes,” according to the agency. The Shin Bet did not release a photo of al-Rafa’i’a.

Agbaria, Jabarin, and al-Rafa’i’a were each charged with “serious security offenses” and other weapons-related offenses, according to the Shin Bet.

“The Shin Bet will continue to act in accordance with the authority given to it by law and will take all the measures at its disposal in order to deal with phenomena related to extreme Islamic ideologies, and to thwart intentions to harm the security of the State of Israel, and will strictly prosecute all those involved in terror activities,” the agency said in the statement.

Earlier this year, Israeli authorities arrested dozens of alleged Islamic State members following two deadly terror attacks — in Hadera and Beersheba — by Arab Israelis thought to have been inspired by the jihadist group. Another deadly attack in Jerusalem in March was later revealed to have been committed by an Islamic State supporter, who also killed an elderly couple in the same area three years prior.

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