Nazareth-Area Arabs Sought to Join IS, Carry Out Attacks

YERUSHALAYIM -
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, 2015. The court sentenced Marwan Khaledi to 3 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted of fighting with Islamic State in Iraq in 2014. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Security officials announced Thursday that they had arrested two Israeli Arabs who had sought to join IS. The two had planned to enter Syria and join Islamic State terrorists, but changed their mind after hearing horror stories about life in IS-controlled areas. With that, they continued to involve themselves in anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement.

They had also planned to carry out terror attacks in Israel, the two admitted under questioning, possibly at the Golani Junction, where many IDF soldiers catch rides to army bases in the north.

The two, Muhammad Omar Badar Hassan, 20, and Ahmed Talal Ahmed Sa’adiya, 23, are cousins, residents of Arab villages in the Nazareth area.

Police, border guards, and Shin Bet agents announced that they had made the arrests based on intelligence and evidence gathered against the two men. The two had flown to Turkey in May with the intention of joining IS, and had reached the Syrian border. However, they changed their mind about joining the group after speaking to Syrian refugees who had come to Turkey, and who told them about the IS-led massacres and oppression they and others had escaped from.

The two returned to Israel, but continued with the idea of waging Islamic holy war, or jihad, including doing so in Israel itself. Among the plans they drew up was one to conduct a mass terror attack at the Golani Junction in northern Israel, where many soldiers from the center of the country stop off before catching rides to their bases further north. One of the suspects actively sought weapons to carry out this attack, security officials said.

On Wednesday, security officials announced that they had uncovered a major Hamas terror cell that was operating in the Yerushalayim area. The terror gang included students from several Arab universities. Twenty-five people were arrested, the officials said Wednesday, and more arrests are expected. The officials said that the gang had manufactured large numbers of bombs and explosive belts that were to be used to commit mass terror attacks. Dozens of such items were discovered in a raid on a Yerushalayim apartment.

Regarding Thursday’s announcement, Shin Bet officials said that the two Arabs arrested felt “compelled by IS ideology to carry out attacks against Jews inside Israel. This highlights the imminent danger of the conjunction of dangerous ideologies with the availability of weapons.”