A Jerusalem Arab family has confirmed that the young man whom the Islamic State says it has taken as hostage is their son but vehemently denied the ISIS claim that he is a spy.
The Jewish Press reported here Thursday night that the ISIS’ English magazine published an “interview” with Mohammed Musallem, originally identified as Mohammed Ismail, who the terrorist organization claimed was a spy.
His brother Ahmed told the Yediot Acharonot newspaper that Mohammed told his family he was going to a firefighting course but remained out of contact until he called from Syria, after crossing the border from Turkey last October.
His father Sayid said that his son called to say he had been abducted and told him, “Dad, I need $200 or $300 so they will let me go.”
Before he was able to send the money, another man called to say that ISIS terrorists had taken him hostage.
The story sounds strange, especially since the ISIS interview claimed that Mohammed was trained by the Mossad for a month before traveling to Syria. There is no way that the Mossad would train someone for only a month and then ship him off as a spy.
The Jewish Press suggested it is more likely that Mohammed joined the ISIS and was being used by the terrorist organization as a tool for propaganda, or that he was kidnapped after having fought with a rival jihadist group.
Either way, his family is dumbstruck. “It can’t be. He’s a man that has no connections to these things,” Ahmed said
The ISIS claimed that it was suspicious of Mohammed’s behavior and suspected him of being a spy, which he allegedly admitted.
“When I saw his picture today I was shocked,” Ahmed told Yediot. “I saw how he looks with a beard and hair.”
After the family members learned that Mohammed had traveled to Turkey, they figured he had gone on vacation.
The last contact with Ahmed was made a month ago through Facebook, where he posted that he was feeling good and was traveling in Syria.,
Israeli police informed the family that Mohammed has joined ISIS.
“In one of the last conversations we had, he said his passports were taken and he has no way to come back,” Ahmed said,
His family did not know of any inclinations of Mohammed to join the radical Islamic movement.
At a Congressional hearing this week in Washington, Congressmen learned that ISIS is exploiting social media to recruit members, and Mohammed may have been attracted by Islamic State propaganda.
“Now that we’ve seen the images of horror with the Jordanian pilot, we don’t know what to do. I don’t think he’ll return to us,” Ahmed said.
Several Arabs from Israel have traveled to Turkey to join the ISIS, and one of them returned on his own last year and was promptly sentenced to 22 months in jail for aiding an enemy. He escaped a heavier sentence by promising to cooperate with Israeli authorities by supplying information, presumably about the Islamic State.