Prosecutors: Jaffa Arabs Hoped to Learn Terror Skills in Syria for Use in Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -

Two Arab residents of Jaffa have been indicted for planning to join Islamist terror groups in Syria, where they hoped to pick up skills they could use to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. Abd al-Malak Asfur and Adam Abu-Shahada were planning to sneak over the border and get into Syria, where they would join one of the Islamist groups, fighting for them and building a network of contacts that could be used to carry out attacks in Israel.

According to the indictment, Asfur took an increasing interest in the activities of Islamic State and the Al-Nusra terror group in Syria, and at the end of 2015 made the decision to go to Syria and join one of the groups. At the beginning of 2016 he made contact with the groups via social media, and when he began discussing his plan with the online terrorists, he informed Abu-Shahada of his plans. In March 2016, the two left Israel for Turkey – on their Israeli passports – taking with them NIS 25,000 for expenses. At Ben Gurion Airport, they told security officials that their interest in traveling to Turkey was to examine educational activities.

When they got to Istanbul, they made some purchases of equipment that they would need for an extended stay in the field, and awaited contact from an agent of one of the terror groups, as had been arranged. After waiting several days and not getting any contact, the two returned to Israel. The two were later detained by security officials, who had uncovered their plan, and they admitted their activities. According to the indictment, the two were part of a plot that “is a grave security concern, in which Islamist groups will recruit Israelis and receive from them strategic and tactical information about Israel. This information is likely to be high quality, as the subjects are Israeli citizens and residents. This presents a severe security threat to Israel.”

Overnight Wednesday, security officials said they arrested 10 wanted security suspects in areas of Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.