3 Israeli Arabs reportedly entered Syria to join Islamic jihad

According to a report in a local Nazareth magazine, the families of the three men tried to have them arrested before they crossed the Turkish-Syrian border.

Four residents of Yafia, a town near Nazareth, left Israel for Turkey during Eid al-Adha earlier this month with the intent of enlisting with the rebel groups in Syria, or with the Islamic State, according to a report in a local Nazareth paper.

ISIS fighters in Raqqa, Syria.

Fighters from the Islamic State marching in Raqqa, Syria, January 2014. – Photo: AP

One of the four dropped out en route and returned home, where he told the families of the other three that they were planning to travel to Syria. The report in Yadit Anas said the families were told that the three left their passports in their Turkish hotel, took a taxi to the Syrian border, and crossed it. Since then they have not made contact with their families.

Upon learning of their sons’ intentions, the families of the three contacted the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Police and even tried to get Interpol involved so that the young men would be arrested before they entered war-torn Syria.

Friends of the three said that they had adopted a religious Muslim lifestyle and had recently been in contact via social media with elements that encouraged young Muslims who were ideologically suitable to join jihad groups.

Northern District Police say they are aware of the three missing men, but have not received any official complaint from the families. Other police sources said that the case was being handled by other law enforcement authorities.

Many Israeli Arab parents and social activists want representatives of the Arab political parties and religious leaders to speak out in the towns and villages and warn young people against joining the fighting in Syria. Still, as far as is known, only a few individuals have traveled to Syria to fight there and there is no indication of a developing trend.

Last week it was reported that a young Israeli Arab man who had joined the Islamic State was killed in battle in Iraq. The family of the man, Ahmed Mohammad Habashi, 23, from the village of Iksal, south of Nazareth, said that he had left Israel for Turkey at the beginning of the year with four friends, and it is assumed that they crossed the border into Syria, where they joined the Islamic State militias. Habashi was apparently killed in fighting in western Iraq’s Anbar province.


View original HAARETZ publication at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.620512