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Israel convicts Arab Israeli for joining Syria jihadists

JERUSALEM: An Arab Israeli citizen on Monday was sentenced to 22 months in prison for joining the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, Israeli court documents showed.

Ahmed Shorabji, a 23-year-old resident of the northern town of Umm al-Fahm, travelled to Syria on January 16 “illegally with several others and with the help of people smugglers” via Turkey, according to the verdict, seen by AFP.

There he joined Syrian rebels claiming to belong to a group called the “Army of Mohammed” and was “a week later recruited by ISIS,” the text said, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State group.

The text said Shorabji then underwent weapons training in Syria, before contacting a “defence official” in Israel on April 16 saying he wanted to return.

Israeli authorities arrested Shorabji upon his return on April 20.

The court said “Israeli citizens who join the jihad in Syria… pose a real threat because they could use their military and ideological training against Israel.”

Last month, Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, said an Arab Israeli doctor had been killed fighting for IS.

The man’s brother was arrested in April and charged with aiding another relative to travel to Syria via Turkey to join IS, in separate cases from that of Shorabji.

Security authorities say they know of about 30 Arab Israeli citizens who have made their way to Syria to fight for jihadist groups against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

But only “a few joined IS, mostly those of a Salafist-jihadist background”.

Arab Israelis number around 1.4 million, some 20 percent of Israel’s population.

They are the descendents of 160,000 Palestinian Arabs who remained on their land when the Jewish state was established in 1948.

Israel and Syria are technically still at war following their 1967 and 1973 conflicts. -AFP

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