Three more Israeli Arabs join Islamic State

The men, from Yafia in the Galilee, entered Syria via Turkey; over 30 citizens estimated to have linked up with jihadist group

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Illustrative image of an Israeli-Arab town in the Lower Galilee (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Amit A. -  Public Domain)
Illustrative image of an Israeli-Arab town in the Lower Galilee (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Amit A. - Public Domain)

Three more Israeli Arabs have joined the Islamic State, Israeli police confirmed on Sunday.

Northern District police received information that the three men, all in their 20s and from the Lower Galilee town of Yafia, had flown to Turkey for the Eid al-Adha holiday, then crossed into Syria, Israeli media reports said.

A relative of one of the men said that the three cut off communication with their families once they reached Turkey. A fourth member of their party returned to Israel and passed along the message that they had gone to Syria “to fight against Assad’s army.”

“We told the police and we turned to Arab MKs to get involved in this episode. We are asking that they return the youths,” the relative told Channel 10.

The Shin Bet internal security service and police believe that more than 30 Israeli Arabs have joined the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms IS, ISIS and ISIL.

The revelation comes after an Israeli Arab from a Galilean village was killed in recent days while fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq.

According to a report in Arabic weekly Al Arab, Ahmed Habashi, 24, from the village of Iksal near Nazareth, traveled to Turkey in January 2014 with four other Israeli Arabs, crossed into Syria and joined IS. He was killed near the Iraqi city of Ramadi, a battleground between the radical Islamist group and Iraqi government forces.

Ahmed Habashi (photo credit: Facebook)
Ahmed Habashi (photo credit: Facebook)

The circumstances of his death remain unclear, the report said.

Habashi’s family was informed of his death by another Israeli Arab who joined the ranks of the Islamic State, Ynet reported. The family initially told Al Arab that they have yet to receive any official word concerning their son, and that his fate remains unknown. Later Saturday, though, his family confirmed that he had been killed.

Also among those known to be fighting with the Islamic State was Rabiya Shahade, 26, an Israeli citizen from Nazareth, who joined the jihadist group about a year ago.

Shahade, who goes by the name Abu Musaav Alsafuri in Syria, was described in a Yedioth Ahronoth report from last month as having had Christian and Jewish friends before he became radicalized. He left behind in Israel a wife and newborn son.

Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report. 

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