JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli immigrant from Belarus who later converted to Islam was arrested for trying to join the Islamic State.
Valentin Vladimir Mazalevsky, 40, a married father of five who lives in the Arab-Israeli town of Shibli in northern Israel, was indicted Wednesday in Nazareth District Court. He was arrested last month for trying to join the jihadists, the Shin Bet security service said in a statement also issued Wednesday.
Mazalevsky purchased a one-way ticket to Turkey in order to cross the border into Syria and join the organization as a fighter, according to the Shin Bet, which said he was active in an online Islamic State support group and coordinated his trip to Syria with it.
He reportedly converted to Islam four years after making aliyah, in 2000 during his military service, after having met his wife, a resident of Shibli.
Eighty-three Israeli citizens and Palestinians have been detained for attempting to join the Islamic State, up from 12 at the end of 2015, Haaretz reported.
The Shin Bet in a statement called the departure of Israelis to Syria and Iraq “a very dangerous phenomenon.”
“Islamic State disseminates deceptive photographs to the effect that a good and respectable life is possible under its rule and that those who join the fighting will enjoy a religious and military adventure,” it said. “However, the investigations of Israelis who have returned from Syria and Iraq show the opposite – harsh conditions under constant threat.”