Israeli Arab who glided into Syria to join ISIS arrested on return home

An Israeli Arab who served with ISIS in Syria was arrested and charged upon his return to the country. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Nidal Hamed Salah, an Israeli-Arab from the town of Jaljulia, was arrested last month after returning from Syria, where he fought with the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.

Salah was successful in joining ISIS in October 2015 after paragliding into Syria from the Golan Heights.

Arrested immediately upon his return to Israel almost three years later, he was charged on Wednesday at the Central District court with joining a terrorist group, providing information to an enemy, contacting a foreign agent, illegally exiting the country and several weapons violations.

He was a part of a seven-member cell of Arabs with Israeli citizenship who had made plans to join the ISIS terror organization in Syria.

The aspiring terrorists, all residents of the town of Jaljulia and in their 20s, planned to follow Salah but were arrested by Israeli security forces before they had the chance.

Salah’s flight to Syria prompted an investigation, which led to the exposure of the cell.

Two members of the cell attempted to join ISIS through Turkey but failed to contact ISIS while there and subsequently returned to Israel, where they were arrested.

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According to the indictment filed against Salah, he was shot at upon landing in Syria, then jailed and brutally interrogated by the Islamist terrorist group in order to force him to give information about Israel.

At some point he convinced them of his sincerity and then joined ISIS as a fighter, taking part in a variety of military missions.

The indictment details how Salah worked in an ISIS factory that developed and manufactured drones in order to film from the air and drop explosives. He was responsible for the steering systems of the aircraft

While serving with ISIS in Syria, he attempted to contact Arabs in Israel and encourage them to join ISIS.

He was captured by the Syrian army during a battle, escaped captivity, and at some point decided to return to Israel. He made his way into Turkey with the assistance of a smuggler. He was met by members of his family and an attorney, who flew back with him to Ben Gurion Airport on June 21, where he was arrested.

Looming threat inside Israel

“The phenomenon of [citizens] leaving for Syria to join ISIS consists a considerable threat to state security, and extensive energy is invested in preventing it,” the Shin Bet has previously stated. It also said it was operating extensively to monitor and apprehend ISIS cells operated by Arabs within Israel.

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Israel estimates that tens of Israeli Arabs have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq in recent years. Several have been arrested upon their return to the country.

Israeli security forces have also arrested several Palestinian and Israeli-Arab terror cells with connections to or inspired by ISIS.

Israel fears that Arabs returning to Israel after fighting alongside ISIS will use their experience to establish terror networks and commit attacks within Israel, or that Arabs in Israel will be inspired by ISIS, especially via social media, and work against the state and its citizens.