Netanyahu convenes meeting on the Islamic State threat

Netanyahu convenes meeting on the Islamic State threat

Prime minister, security officials concerned with terrorist group’s inroads among a small number of Israeli Arabs

A youngster holding an IS flag on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (photo credit: Facebook)
A youngster holding an IS flag on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (photo credit: Facebook)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with cabinet members and security officials Wednesday night to discuss the Islamic State terror group.

The meeting was attended by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and an unnamed representative of the Shin Bet security organization, according to the Israeli news agency Walla.

A central focus of their discussion was the threat of Israel-Arabs joining the group and potentially creating homegrown cells on Israeli soil.

According to unnamed sources within Shin Bet, up to 10 Israeli-Arabs have joined the Islamic State and the rebel group’s flag has been sighted in various places throughout the Jewish state.

The meeting came in the wake of journalist Steven Sotloff’s widely publicized murder by an Islamic State terrorist. Sotloff was a dual American-Israeli citizen who had made aliya from Florida in 2005 and studied at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

The prime minister sent his condolences to the Sotloff family last week and made a separate statement that contended that the 31 year old was murdered because he was seen “as a symbol of the West, the same culture that extremist Islam wishes to annihilate.”

The meeting in Israel took place hours ahead of US President Barack Obama’s high-stakes address in which he was set to outline his plans for battling the Islamic State. Ahead of his remarks, congressional leaders grappled with whether to support his request to arm the Syrian opposition and if so, how to get such a measure through the fractured legislature.

The US has also been pressing allies in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere to help.

France’s foreign minister said Wednesday that his country was ready to take part in airstrikes against extremist fighters in Iraq if needed. And the German government announced that it was sending assault rifles, ammunition, anti-tank weapons and armored vehicles to Kurdish forces in Iraq fighting, breaking with Berlin’s previous reluctance to send weapons into conflicts.

Obama also worked the phones with foreign leaders Wednesday, calling Saudi King Abdullah ahead of a gathering of Arab leaders on their contributions to a global coalition against the Islamic State.

Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Saudi Arabia and Jordan this week. He first made a stop in Baghdad to meet with Iraq’s new leaders and pledge US support for eliminating the extremist group.

AP contributed to this report. 

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