Photo Credit: courtesy, Shin Bet
Arab Israeli Islamic State suspects.

Two residents of the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm and a resident of the Bedouin Rafaieh Negev community were indicted Monday on charges of committing “security offenses.” The two allegedly intended to join the Islamic State terrorist organization in Africa.

The Shin Bet tracked down and arrested the three men last month in a joint operation with the Israel Police. The suspects allegedly planned to join the terror organization in Nigeria.

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“Two residents of Umm al-Fahm were arrested for investigation by the Shin Bet on suspicion of intending to carry out terrorist activities on behalf of the terrorist organization “Islamic State”, inside or outside Israel,” the Shin Bet said Monday.

“Among other things, it was suspected that the two intended to join the fighting in Africa within the framework of the organization.”

The two, Muhammad Farouk Yosef Agbaria, 21, and Abdel Mahdi Masoud Muhammad Jabarin, 21, were arrested in Umm al-Fahmm. Jabarin is known to the security forces for previous activity on behalf of the Islamic State organization in which he planned an attack in Israel.

The two were closely monitored by the security forces, because they are identified with an extreme Salafi-Jihadist ideology, the Shin Bet said.

The domestic intelligence agency said the two planned to go to a combat zone of the “Islamic State” abroad with the aim of joining the ranks of the terrorist organization and fighting for it. “In this framework, the two acted to issue passports and consulted with an Israeli citizen, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, who had recently returned from a combat zone of the Al-Qaeda organization in Africa.”

Investigators said Abdel Mahdi contacted a local official in Nigeria in order to get directions to the district where intensive fighting by the “Islamic State” organization is taking place.

It also emerged that as part of their preparations for going out to fight in the ranks of the organization, the two “consumed extremist content from the Islamic State” — among other things, content of weapons and pictures of those killed in combat and beheadings — and held physical training and trained at shooting ranges as part of their preparation for fighting in the Islamic State ranks.

This investigation is added to other recent probes in which the Shin Bet thwarted activity on behalf of Islamic State operatives in Israel.

During July 2022, the Shin Bet in cooperation with the Israel Police / Negev Police Department, arrested Muhammad Al-Rafaieh, a 30-year-old Israeli citizen living in the Rafaieh desert community in the Negev, on suspicion of committing security offenses inspired by Islamic State (ISIS).

Under questioning Al-Rafaieh admitted that he identified with the Islamic State and supported the organization’s ideas and goals. He also confessed to participating in shooting training together with others in order to join the terror organization and fight in its ranks in Israel, “when the time came.”

At the end of his investigation by the Shin Bet, an indictment was filed against Al-Rafaieh by the Southern District Attorney’s Office.

“The General Security Service will continue to act in accordance with the authority provided by law and will take all the measures at its disposal in order to deal with phenomena related to extreme Islamic ideologies, and to thwart in advance intentions to harm the security of the State of Israel on this background,” the security agency said, vowing to also “strictly prosecute all those involved in terrorist activities.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.