One of the the two terrorists who carried out a deadly shooting attack in Hadera on Sunday reportedly had his prison sentence over his ties to Islamic State reduced by a judge during his trial several years ago, despite requests by the prosecution for a lengthier sentence.
Two cousins, Ibrahim and Ayman Ighbariah, both Israeli citizens, killed two Border Police officers on Sunday and wounded multiple others before being shot dead by undercover officers who happened to be eating nearby.
Ibrahim Ighbariah was arrested by Turkish police in 2016 as he tried to make his way to Syria in order to join the Islamic State terror group, the Shin Bet security service said at the time. He had planned to board a bus to reach the border with Syria but was intercepted by Turkish authorities, who were apparently tipped off by Israel, according to a report in Haaretz.
Ighbariah was extradited to Israel, where he was arrested at the airport by Shin Bet agents and subsequently charged with illegally leaving the country and attempting to join a terror group.
During his interrogation, Ighbariah told investigators that he had begun to identify with the Islamic State’s ideology after watching videos and reading information distributed by the group, the Shin Bet said in a statement in 2016.
Before leaving, the 23-year-old wrote a letter to his family about his intention to “join the jihad” and discussed the decision with some of his friends, some of whom “expressed support for the idea,” the Shin Bet said.
At his trial, prosecutors had demanded that Ighbariah serve 20-36 months in prison, according to Haaretz. However, the judge decided on a lighter sentence, sentencing him to serve only a year and a half instead.
“We must take into account the suspect’s confession, his young age, his clean record, his remorse, the positive review given in his case and the fact that he comes from a normative family,” Judge Ehud Kaplan wrote in his decision.
Haaretz also reported that during the trial, authorities requested that Ighbariah remain in custody throughout the proceedings, telling the court that he was designated as a high-risk prisoner due to his “deep identification not only with the Islamic State and Sharia, but also with the Islamic State’s ruthless activity.”
Throughout the trial, Ighbariah petitioned the court to release him from custody, saying that he had no prior criminal record and that his brother is a police officer. Haaretz also reported that his brother testified on his behalf during the trial, saying that his family had informed authorities when Ighbariah left the country.
“We first and foremost support him. It was hard for us that he left the country, it was almost like mourning,” his brother reportedly told the court at the time. “We will support him until he goes back to normal, will work and raise a family.”
The brother also said that Ighbariah even told him that he wanted to join the police and work on his Hebrew.
The second terrorist, his cousin, Ayman Ighbariah, reportedly also raised red flags during his previous time in prison, according to Channel 12 news.
Like his cousin, Ayman was arrested in Turkey in 2016 after trying to cross the border into Syria to join IS. He was sent back to Israel and imprisoned in the Gilboa Prison where he was incarcerated in a wing holding Fatah prisoners, according to the report.
Channel 12 said that in 2016, there were 27 Islamic State followers held in Israeli prisons.
But, according to Channel 12, the other Fatah prisoners recognized that Ayman Ighbariah held much more extreme views than other IS prisoners.
The other prisoners started beating and harassing him, and at one point Ighbariah was expelled from the wing and transferred to a wing of Hamas prisoners — where he continued to serve his sentence.
In 2017, he was arrested again by the Shin Bet for firearms offenses, but was released after three weeks and was never indicted, Haaretz reported.