Israeli Police Bust Homegrown IS Terror Cell

Marwan Khaledi, 20, seen at the courtroom of the Nazareth District Court on October 21, 2015. Tthe court sentenced Marwan Khaledi for 3.5 years in prison after he was convicted of fighting with Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq in 2014. Photo by Basel Awidat/Flash90
Marwan Khaledi, 20, seen at the courtroom of the Nazareth District Court on Oct. 21. The court sentenced Marwan Khaledi to 3.5 years in prison after he was convicted of fighting with Islamic State in Iraq in 2014. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Police and Shin Bet officials on Tuesday announced that they had arrested five Arabs in northern Israel who had set up an independent Islamic State-affiliated group. The Arabs, residents of Nazareth, were in possession of paraphernalia associated with the terror group, including flags and pamphlets. The five have been indicted on charges of belonging to a terror group and planning to carry out terror attacks.

Under questioning, the Arabs admitted that they had undergone training in the battle tactics used by the terror group. Ranging in age from 18 to 27, the Arabs, all residents of Nazareth, said that they had been gathering weapons in preparation for an upcoming terror attack, the nature of which was not announced by security forces.

It is also not clear if they were planning at some point to leave for Syria or Iraq and fight with IS forces with one of the rebel groups there.

Israeli officials said that about 40 Israeli Arabs have gone to Syria using different methods to fight with one of the rebel groups there, or with ISIS. Most of them have been killed, based on information Israeli intelligence has come up with, the officials said.

Last month, police and the Shin Bet special security service arrested six residents of the Arab town of Jaljulye, located in central Israel, after they had planned to go to Syria and from there join the ranks of IS. The six are being held on charges of supporting a terror group, incitement, conspiracy to commit terror acts, and other related charges.

The plot was revealed after Israeli officials arrested an Israeli Arab who was apparently also part of the gang, when he tried to fly a glider into Syria three weeks ago. The Arab launched his glider from a site in the Golan Heights used by sports enthusiasts for paragliding, and succeeded in crossing over into Syria.

In the wake of that October 24 incident, intelligence officials began investigating the identity of the Arab, who turned out to be 23-year-old Nadal Salah of Jaljulye. Further investigation revealed that he was part of a group that had been in touch with IS and had been planning to cross the border and fight with the terror group.