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6 Arab Israelis arrested for alleged IS ties, plans to attack Nazareth Muslim school

Security agency says men consumed jihadist content online, sought to also attack busy bus stop, tourist site and police station in northern Israel

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

Suspects arrested over alleged Islamic State affilation, in images published by the Shin Bet October 2, 2022, clockwise from top left: Muhammad Ihab Suleiman, Muamen Nijam, Jihad Bakr, Jafar Suleiman, Ahmed Belal Suleiman. (Shin Bet)
Suspects arrested over alleged Islamic State affilation, in images published by the Shin Bet October 2, 2022, clockwise from top left: Muhammad Ihab Suleiman, Muamen Nijam, Jihad Bakr, Jafar Suleiman, Ahmed Belal Suleiman. (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security agency announced Sunday that in recent weeks six Arab men were arrested for alleged affiliation with the Islamic State terror group and plans to commit terror attacks.

According to the Shin Bet, the men, all from Nazareth in northern Israel, sought to attack a Muslim school in the Arab-majority city because it “operated in the way of the ‘infidels.'”

The security agency said the group also planned to attack a busy bus stop in northern Israel, a police station in Nazareth, a forest where Jewish Israelis often visit, and other areas.

“The suspects consumed Islamic State content, to which they were exposed to while surfing the internet, in a way that led to a deep identification on their part with the terrorist organization’s ideas,” the Shin Bet said.

The suspects were identified by the Shin Bet as Muhammad Ihab Suleiman, 25, Jafar Suleiman, 21, Muamen Nijam, 20, Ahmed Belal Suleiman, 18, Jihad Bakr, 20, and a minor whose name was barred from publication.

The agency said the men attempted to obtain weapons for the attacks, as well as recruit others.

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)

Indictments were filed against the six on Sunday, which included terror offenses charges.

“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,” the agency said in the statement.

It added that the arrests “shed light” on the influence of IS in Israel.

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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