A 23-year-old Arab Israeli man was arrested by Turkish police officers earlier this month as he tried to make his way to Syria in order to join the Islamic State terror group, the Shin Bet security service said Wednesday.
Ibrahim Hassan Yussef Ighbariah, a resident of the lower Galilee Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, had planned to travel through Istanbul to the Turkish border with Syria to join the terrorist organization’s ranks, the Shin Bet said.
He was arrested in the beginning of June in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Syrian border, and was sent back to Israel through Ben-Gurion International Airport on June 10, where he was arrested by Shin Bet agents.
On Wednesday, Ighbariah was indicted in Haifa District Court for trying to join the Islamic State, which is officially recognized as a terrorist organization in Israel.
During his interrogation, Ighbariah told investigators he began 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.
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.
While it is believed that nearly 30,000 foreigners have joined the ranks of the Islamic State over the past few years, Israel has been comparatively untouched by the phenomenon.
According to Israeli authorities, fewer than 50 Arab Israelis have joined the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, compared to the nearly 800 people believed to have joined from Germany or the approximately 200 people from the United States.
Nevertheless, the Shin Bet stressed the risk of having Israeli citizens join the Islamic State.
“There is the very real fear that Israelis will be used by terror groups in order to obtain information about targets in the State of Israel in order to carry out terror attacks against them,” the security service said.
“This incident with Ighbariah, as with others, also reveals the outcomes and results of young people being exposed to content and videos published by the Islamic State on the internet,” the Shin Bet said.