by Ilana Messika
The Nazareth District Court has sentenced three Israeli Arabs to a minimum of two and a half years in prison for attempting to create an ISIS-linked cell in Israel and planning to carry out terror attacks.
“The activities committed in the framework of the association spanned several months during which the accused had many opportunities to operate shooting training with the weapons in their possession, endeavored to access even more weapons, and orchestrated several tours in the area in order to calculate how to best organize the attacks, all within the common ideology and shared goal [of ISIS],” the verdict stated.
Ahmad Halil Ahmad, already in prison for the 2010 murder of taxi driver Yafim Weinstein, had maintained a telephone relationship with Mahmad Gazhala, whom he had known before prison. Ahmad asked Gazhala to bring him an M-16 assault rifle in exchange for money.
That sale never happened, but at the same time, two other men, Mahmad Sharif and Ahmad Mahagana, made contact with two unnamed Israeli Arabs; both were planning to travel to Syria via Turkey to join Da’esh, the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization.
Prior to that, Sharif and Mahagana had planned terror attacks in Israel and had recruited Gazhala to their group. Sharif went through several rounds of weapons training in his hometown of Yaffa an-Naseriyye (Jaffa of Nazareth), in the southern Galilee.
According to the verdict, “The accused men contacted one another in order to perpetrate terror attacks in Israel and had chosen several options, including shooting attacks against an IDF base, attacking police forces or arson against businesses that sell alcohol.”
Ahmad, already imprisoned for life, was sentenced to an additional 30 months in prison. Sharif and Gazhala each received a five-year sentence for terrorist activity and membership in an illegal organization, illegal possession and transfer of weapons crime and shooting in residential areas. Sharif also was sentenced on a count of contact with a foreign agency.
The case against Gazhala was dropped after he withdrew his confession.TPS / Tazpit News Agency