Arab Israeli Jailed Who Fought for Islamic State

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

An Israeli court handed a relatively light prison sentence on Monday to an Arab citizen who spent three months fighting with Islamic State in Syria before quitting the group and returning home to face prosecution.

Ahmed Shurbaji is the first Israeli convicted of ties to Islamic State, which has drawn foreign Muslim volunteers as it seized swathes of Syria and Iraq this year. Several Israeli Arabs have been tried for joining other Syrian insurgent groups.

Haifa District Court sentenced Shurbaji to 22 months in jail, including time served since his arrest in April after he flew back to Israel via Turkey. It ruled that his training in various arms and combat experience made him a security threat.

But the court also noted that Shurbaji, 23, had no criminal record, had been in Islamic State before it was formally banned by Israel in September and, while in Syria, had contacted an Israeli security official to voice regret and ask to return.

“It is a reasonable assumption that the defendant’s cooperation with security authorities will help the State of Israel defend itself against this organisation in various ways,” the court said in its ruling, without elaborating.