A 24-year-old math teacher in northern Israel is being held as a suspected supporter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror organization.
The suspect, whose name has not been released, is being held until Wednesday for questioning while the investigation continues under an order from the Hadera Magistrate’s Court.
ISIS was banned officially in Israel – along with its members – at the beginning of September by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The legal decree outlaws meetings or contact of any kind with members of the terrorist organization.
Police discovered an ISIS flag and a large amount of jihad literature during a search of the suspect’s home in Kfar Kara, in the Wadi Ara region of central Israel, an area known as “the triangle.” The town is located 22 miles (35 km) southeast of Haifa, home to some about 15,000 residents, mostly Muslims, and is a town with the highest record for doctors relative to population size in the country as of 2007.
Also known for its high number of academics and Master’s degree holders, Kfar Kara is home as well to fiery Israeli Arab Knesset member Jamal Zahalka, chairman of the radical Balad political party, who has often slammed Israel as an “occupier” of “Palestinian lands.” Zahalka is known for his trips abroad to enemy Arab nations — such as Syria — to meet with President Bashar al-Assad as well as terrorist leaders. He has yet to be charged in connection with such activity, due in part to his diplomatic immunity as a Knesset member.
Among the items seized from the suspect’s home were computers, several other electronic devices, the ISIS flag and a large quantity of literature on jihad (Islamic holy war.)
Thus far, the suspect has told police that he brought the items back with him from Jordan, where he was studying.
But he is not the first.
Umm al-Fahm resident Ahmed Shurbaji, 23, was convicted last week in the Haifa Magistrate’s Court for illegally traveling to Syria for military training. This, after confessing to terrorist training with ISIS.
Efraim Halevy, chief of Israel’s international Mossad intelligence agency, warned in an interview on Army Radio this month that Israeli Arabs might volunteer to fight with ISIS.
“There are signs of sympathy for the Islamic State among Israeli citizens,” Halevy said. “When a backdrop of sympathy exists, there are usually some who cross over to wider action.”
A similar process has already occurred in western Europe, he said.