Police head promises crackdown on Islamic State supporters
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Police head promises crackdown on Islamic State supporters

Commissioner says extremist group has not entered country but can still spread propaganda via Internet, vows ‘forceful’ action

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, June 2012 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, June 2012 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s police chief vowed on Monday his forces would vigorously root out any supporters of the Islamic State terror group, while asserting that the group had yet to reach Israel in any form.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said police were determined not to allow young people to be influenced by the messages of the extremist Islamist group, which has shocked the world with ruthless killings in Iraq and Syria over the past weeks.

“Over the past few days, I have placed orders to act forcefully in response to the showing of support, in any way, of the murderous group,” Danino said during a talk at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, according to the NRG news site.

Danino said IS had not physically reached Israel, but its influence could still stretch across the border via the Internet.

“The problem with the organization is not a physical presence of fighters from the Islamic State on the ground, but in this online world, where young people are exposed to the spirit of the extremist group, and are affected by it,” he explained.

Danino’s comments came several days after Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, following recommendation by the Shin Bet, designated the Islamic State an “illegal organization” under Israeli law.

Ya’alon also placed the al-Qaeda affiliate Abdullah Azzam Brigades under the same designation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (C) and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (R) at a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left), Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (center) and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (right) at a press conference in Jerusalem, August 27, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The move would enable Israel to act against the organizations by prohibiting gatherings, recruitment, and fundraising and other activities, Israel Radio reported.

“Because of [Ya’alon’s designation], we now have a legal basis for a criminal investigation against any person suspected of identifying with [the Islamic State],” Danino said.

The Islamic State group has swept through northern and western Iraq from its stronghold in neighboring Syria. It follows an ultra-conservative, violent interpretation of Islam and is accused by rights groups and the United Nations of committing war crimes, including the mass killings of soldiers, Shiite Muslims and followers of the ancient Yazidi faith in Iraq.

The US has made efforts toward creating an anti-Islamic State coalition with a number of other Western countries, and has carried out airstrikes against the group in Iraq.

“The fight against terrorism is also an international effort,” Danino said, adding that “the Israeli police has cooperated extensively with security forces around the world in the fight against terrorism.”

On Wednesday night last week, Israel’s Channel 10 aired footage of what it said was an Islamic State rally on the Temple Mount, a day after the group released a video that showed an Islamic State fighter beheading captive US-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff.

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 in August (photo credit: Facebook)

Formally, the gathering, attended by thousands, was organized by the hardline Tahrir party, which the report described as being the “Palestine branch” of the Islamic State, though some analysts disagree with the comparison.

Speakers were filmed anticipating the liberation of Jerusalem and decrying Jewish pollution of the city. Several black IS flags were seen in the footage.

The footage was filmed on a recent Friday, the report said.

Lazar Berman and Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.

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