Arab-Israeli couple charged with joining ISIS in Syria, Iraq


(JTA) — Israel arrested an Arab couple who returned to the country after allegedly joining the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.

Wissam and Sabarin Zabidat of the northern Arab town of Sakhnin were indicted Thursday in Haifa District Court for leaving Israel for an enemy country and joining a terrorist group, according to a statement by Israel’s Shin Bet security service.

The Shin Bet together with the Israel Police arrested the Zabidats when they returned to Israel on Sept. 22. They had left Israel in June 2015, traveling via Romania to Turkey, where they crossed the border into Syria, the statement said. The couple brought their three children — ages 8, 6, and 3 — with them.

In Syria, Wissam was sent to a training camp in Iraq, where he fought with the terrorist group, the Shin Bet said. He was later hospitalized in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The family decided to return to Israel in June this year due to the harsh conditions in Mosul, which included poverty, bombardment and disease. On their way back to the country, they were detained in Turkey.

The couple joined the terrorist group after being “deeply influenced” by ISIS content and videos, according to the Shin Bet statement.

“It should be emphasized that the phenomena of Israelis leaving for Syria and Iraq is grave and dangerous,” read the statement.

“Daesh [ISIS] disseminates mendacious publications designed to construct a distorted image of itself as allowing a good and respectable life under an Islamic regime or, alternatively, of religious and military adventure. However, the investigations of Israelis who have returned from Syria and Iraq present a completely opposite picture about the dangers and harsh living conditions under Daesh.”

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