The family of Muhammad Said Ismail Musallam, an Islamic State hostage in Syria who the jihadist group claims is a spy for the Mossad, denied he is connected to the Israeli intelligence agency.
His father confirmed to Haaretz Thursday evening that 19-year-old Musallam left home three months ago without warning and joined the Islamic State in Syria. One week later, Musallam’s father said he received an email from his son saying he wished to become a martyr, the newspaper reported.
Earlier on Thursday, the latest issue of the group’s English-language magazine, Dabiq, the East Jerusalem native is interviewed and says he was recruited to work for the Israeli intelligence agency by his Jewish neighbor, a police officer named “Eli.”
Musallam’s father said they have had sporadic contact with their son over the past several months, but several weeks ago he was approached by someone who said they saw their son in an Islamic State’s prison.
“He is not a spy, he went over on his own — they recruited him on the Internet. I don’t know what they said to him or how they got into his head, but he is not connected with the Mossad, the Shin Bet security services or anyone else,” the paper reported him as saying.
In the Dabiq interview, Musallam said he accepted his neighbor’s offer after gaining his family’s support and hearing of the salary and financial opportunities.
“They [his father and brother] both encouraged me to do it and told me that it was a very good job. They told me that there was a lot of money in it, and that you could advance to higher positions. I knew at that point that they themselves were working as spies,” he was quoted as saying.
Musallam said his base pay was NIS 5,000 per month, but would increase depending on the importance of the assignment and level of risk involved.
After a one-month training course, where he received weapons training and was taught how to pass an interrogation, Musallam said he was tasked with turning in weapons dealers and reporting potential terrorists to the intelligence agency.
Later, Musallam said a Mosssad agent named “Miro” approached him, with an offer to spy on the Islamic State in Syria. According to the magazine, his mission was to collect specific information about weapons, where they were stored and to identify any Israeli Arabs or Palestinians fighting in the ranks of the jihadist group.
Noticing that his behavior was unusual for a volunteer jihadist, his commanders began to suspect Musallam and began to monitor him, according to the magazine.
Musallam was detained and confessed to being an informant.
A number of Israelis are thought to have joined up with the Islamic State, which has attracted 20,000 foreign fighters, according to a US report this week.
In January, a Nazareth man was arrested upon returning to Israel after joining the Islamic State to fight in Iraq.
The group, which captured wide swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, is known for its brutal tactics and use of slick propaganda material to spread its Islamist message.