The Shin Bet security agency said on Monday that in recent weeks three Arab men had been arrested for suspected affiliation with Islamic State and plans to fight with the jihadist group in Africa.
On July 14, Muhammad Farouk Yousef Agbaria and Abd al-Mahdi Masoud Muhammad Jabarin, both 21 years old from the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, were arrested for their alleged plan to travel to Africa to fight alongside the Islamic State, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The Shin Bet said the pair were “closely monitored by security forces, given that they were identified as having extreme Salafist-Jihadist ideologies.”
According to the Shin Bet, Agbaria and Jabarin consulted with another man from Umm al-Fahm, who recently returned to Israel after fighting with al-Qaeda in Africa, about how to get there.
Agbaria contacted a local in Nigeria separately, seeking directions to a district where “intense fighting by the organization” was taking place, the statement said.
Ahead of their planned trip to Africa, the couple also practiced shooting and “consuming Islamic State extremist content”, including beheading videos, the agency added.
In another case, a Bedouin man from a village in the Rafa’i’a area, east of Beersheba, was arrested on July 22 for alleged affiliation with the Islamic State.
During interrogation, Muhammad al-Rafa’i’a, 30, admitted he supported Islamic State and its goals, and sought to fight for the group in Israel, the Shin Bet said.
Al-Rafa’i’a also conducted shooting exercises with the aim of fighting for the jihadist group “when the time comes”, according to the agency. The Shin Bet has not released a photo of al-Rafa’i’a.
Agbaria, Jabarin and al-Rafa’i’a were each charged with “serious security breaches” and other weapons-related offences, according to the Shin Bet.
“The Shin Bet will continue to act in accordance with the authority conferred on it by law and will take all measures at its disposal to deal with phenomena related to extreme Islamic ideologies and to thwart intentions to harm the security of the ‘State. of Israel, and will strictly prosecute all those involved in terrorist activities,” the agency said in the statement.
Earlier this year, Israeli authorities arrested dozens of suspected Islamic State members following two deadly terror attacks – in Hadera and Beersheba – carried out by Israeli Arabs believed to have been inspired by the jihadist group. Another deadly attack in Jerusalem in March was later revealed to have been carried out by an Islamic State supporter, who had also killed an elderly couple in the same neighborhood three years earlier.