Israeli-Arab who joined ISIS with entire family sent to prison

The couple joined ISIS with their three children, but returned to Israel due to the harsh conditions in Mosul.

Wissam Zabidat, an Israeli Arab who joined the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group together with his wife and three children and returned to Israel, was sentenced on Thursday to five years and 10 months in prison after being convicted of traveling to an enemy country and joining a terror organization.

This is the most severe sentence given to an Israeli citizen who has joined ISIS.

The couple was arrested in September 2016 upon their return to Israel from Iraq with their family.

The Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) stated at the time of the arrest that Zabidat and his wife Sabarin, together with their children aged eight, six and three, joined ISIS in Syria in June of 2015 after being radicalized by online content.

Wissam was sent to Iraq and underwent military training and Islamic indoctrination. After the conclusion of his training, he served as security guard at an ISIS installation in Iraq and participated in raids on Iraqi troops, during which he was wounded.

Wissam was hospitalized in Mosul, where he was joined by his family. During that period, he had no access to proper medical treatment, while his family lived in cramped quarters with no water, electricity or schooling for the children.

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The family decided to return to Israel following the heavy fighting in the city and the poor conditions. They paid thousands of dollars to smugglers to get them to Turkey, and encountered many hardships on their way, including being fired upon by ISIS members and Turkish forces. They were arrested in Turkey, extradited to Israel and were arrested upon their arrival at Ben Gurion Airport.

Sabarin Zabiat was sentenced to four years and two months in prison a few months ago.

At least 60 Israelis have traveled to Syria and Iraq over the past several years to fight with various rebel groups, including ISIS. At least 10 of them were arrested on their return to the country, and others have been killed in action.

The Shin Bet views Israelis who support the Islamic State organization as a serious security threat. Israeli security forces have exposed several ISIS terror cells, comprised mostly of Arabs holding Israeli citizenship, operating in the Jewish state. Tens of suspects were arrested.

Israel fears that citizens returning home after fighting alongside ISIS will use their experience to establish terror networks and launch attacks within the country. Another threat is the possibility of ISIS influencing Arab Israelis, especially via social media, to attack the Jewish state and its citizens.

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By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News