A Jewish-Israeli man who apparently planned to join the Islamic State terrorist group was apprehended by Turkish authorities after being located near the country’s border with Syria, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
The man, 21, was handed over to family members who arrived in Turkey and escorted him back to Israel on Tuesday.
The man, who despite his age is still under his parents’ legal guardianship, flew from Israel to the Greek island of Crete, and from there continued to the Turkish city of Iskenderun, near the Syrian border.
His relatives, who had remained in contact with him throughout the entire period of his absence from Israel, suspected the man was planning to join the Islamic State and immediately alerted the Foreign Ministry, the Haaretz daily reported.
Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Alon Lavi said the ministry alerted Interpol representatives in Israel and then contacted the embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul in order to locate the man, according to the report.
The Foreign Ministry said it could not disclose any further information about the man for reasons of privacy and due to the sensitive nature of the case. However, a source in the ministry said the incident had not been treated as a matter of national security, but as a humanitarian case.
Earlier this year security officials estimated that at least 35 Israeli Arabs have left the country to join the group or to join other rebel groups in Syria.
On Saturday, the Israeli Arabic language newspaper Al-Arab that an Arab Israeli woman in her forties from the Galilee had gone missing and relatives suspect she may have gone to Syria to join the Islamic State.
According to the report, the woman flew Thursday to Turkey, from where she could have crossed the border to Syria.
In July, Hamza Magamzeh, an Israeli Arab from the Galilee, was sentenced to three years in prison for his intention to join Islamic State. The penalty was the heaviest yet for the crime of trying to join the IS terror organization.
Separately, Ramle resident Hamis Salameh was indicted for trying to join the group.
Earlier this month, an East Jerusalem man residing in the United States tried to join the terror group, but was stopped by Turkish authorities since his passport was expired.
In March, the Islamic State published a video of an execution of a person it said was an “Israeli spy.” The man, a resident of East Jerusalem, left last year to join the fighting in Syria.
A Twitter account affiliated with Islamic State said that the man was an agent for Mossad. His family in East Jerusalem denied the accusation, saying he had joined the ranks of IS voluntarily.