Arab Israeli indicted for planning Islamic State attack in Tel Aviv
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Arab Israeli indicted for planning Islamic State attack in Tel Aviv

Kamel Abu Amarah, 19, from Jaffa, sent IS operatives a video of himself swearing allegiance to terror group, declared online his willingness to carry out suicide bombing

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Screen capture from video of Kamel Abu Amarah, center, an Arab Israeli accused of joining the Islamic State group, seen in Tel Aviv District Court, April 18, 2018. (Screen capture: Walla news)
Screen capture from video of Kamel Abu Amarah, center, an Arab Israeli accused of joining the Islamic State group, seen in Tel Aviv District Court, April 18, 2018. (Screen capture: Walla news)

Prosecutors on Wednesday indicted an Arab Israeli teenager who confessed to trying to join the Islamic State terrorist group, attempting to recruit others, and declaring his willingness to carry out a suicide bombing or drive-by shooting attack on Israeli soldiers near the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Charges were filed against Kamel Abu Amarah, 19, from Jaffa, for contacting an enemy agent as well as membership in a terror group and activities on its behalf, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

The documents submitted to Tel Aviv District Court claimed Amarah voluntarily joined the organization by sending IS operatives a video of himself pledging allegiance to its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He is also accused of actively working on behalf of the terrorist group as well as trying to recruit more members, including a member of his family and a friend. In addition, prosecutors said, he tried to buy a pistol through an acquaintance he believed had criminal contacts.

According to the indictment, Amarah first became interested in Islamic State in 2016 and began making contact with IS sympathizers on the internet via Facebook groups and Instagram as well as the chat programs DISCORD and STEAM. He searched online for IS-related material, including video clips that urged terror attacks and jihad, stabbings, decapitations, the production of explosives and the use of weapons.

He made contact with users claiming to be from Romania, the Philippines, and Morocco, the court documents said.

Court papers showed that Amarah told some of his online contacts he had been questioned in the past by the Shin Bet security service.

In March 2018, he publicly stated on IS internet groups that he knew how to make explosives and declared his readiness to carry out a suicide bombing or drive-by shooting on soldiers near the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv, the IDF national headquarters.

Prosecutors asked that Amarah be held under arrest until the end of legal proceedings, telling the court that his “actions, which speak for themselves, clearly present grounds for his arrest due to a danger to the security of the country and public safety.”

“The danger posed by the defendant is heightened by the fact that he acted, based on his confession, both out of ideological identification with the values ​​and goals of the terrorist organization and out of a sense of hostility toward Jewish citizens of Israel.”

Last month, an Arab Israeli was sentenced to 28 months in prison for trying to join Islamic State.

Comparatively few Arab Israelis have joined the terrorist group, yet the Shin Bet has said it views the possibility of Israeli citizens joining IS as a “serious security threat.” A few dozen Israeli Arabs from northern Israel have been arrested for alleged links with IS in recent years. Roughly 20 are now believed to be among its ranks in Syria and Iraq.

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