Israel arrests Arab citizens attempting to join IS

2015-11-18 11:40:47 GMT2015-11-18 19:40:47(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JERUSALEM, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Israeli authorities said Wednesday they have arrested a group of Islamic State (IS) supporters from an Arab town in central Israel, who planned to cross into Syria to join the jihadi organization.

The arrests of the six suspects were made last month but was kept under a gag order until Wednesday. All suspects are Arab citizens of Israel, who live in Jaljulia, a town north of Tel Aviv.

The investigation began after one of them, Nidal Salah, 23, used a hand glider to fly illegally into neighboring Syria on Oct. 24, allegedly to join the IS rebels in the four-year-old war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The investigation led to two brothers, who allegedly assisted Salah to cross the border. The Shin Bet security service and the police said in a statement that both brothers are known IS sympathizers.

One of them, Jihad Hagla, 26, was released from an Israeli prison in November 2014, after serving time for fighting six months in the ranks of the IS in Syria during 2013.

After his release, he hosted religion lessons in his home, "during which he preached for Jihad and the need to join the IS efforts in Syria," the Shin Bet said.

According to the Shin Bet, he and Nidal Salah took paragliding training to cross into Syria, fearing Israeli authorities will not allow Hagla to leave the country due to his previous security offense. His brother, Ahab Hagla, 22, assisted them with the training, the Shin Bet said.

An indictment filed Wednesday against the group in a district court, accused them of contacting a foreign agent, attempting to leave Israel illegally to travel to an enemy country, and assisting an illegal attempt to leave Israel.

Dozens of Arab Israelis have undergone legal procedures in Israel in the past two years after traveling to Syria and trying to join the IS organization, which Israel officially outlawed last month.

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