Arab Israeli reportedly paraglided into Syria to join ISIS
A 23 year-old Israeli Arab para-glided into Syria from the Golan Heights in order to join a Syrian rebel group, the IDF Spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz said on Sunday.
On Saturday evening, at approximately 5 p.m., IDF look-outs spotted the para glider hovering from northern Israel into Syria, and alerted the military, which launched a large-scale search.
“We believe he planned this move to the other side, and joined a group there,” Almoz told reporters during a conference call. “From the moment we spotted him, a large operational and intelligence search and investigation by the Northern Command, which was joined by the Shin Bet, began,” he added.
Throughout the night, large numbers of rumors circulated on social media about events on the northern border.
“It seems, based on our understanding, that this 23-year-old from [the Arab Israeli town of Jalulia] was collected by someone on the other side [of the border],” Almoz said. “We assume that someone who paraglided in this direction planned to do it.”
Almoz declined to specify which military activities occurred on the northern border overnight, but added that if the assessment of a volunteer joining a Syrian rebel group proved accurate, the military side of the IDF’s response would soon draw to an end.
Almoz said he did not know which group the para-glided had joined in Syria.
“The Shin Bet is leading the intelligence aspect of this,” he added.
The IDF does not know whether the man used a powered para-glider to cross into Syria.
Throughout the past year, the Shin Bet has monitored and, on occasion, arrested a handful of Arab Israeli individuals suspected of planning to join ISIS in Syria.
Security forces in May the arrest of an Arab-Israeli resident of Umm el-Fahm, on suspicion of supporting Islamic State. A joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – Israel Police operation resulted in the arrest a 22-year-old man. According the Shin Bet, the suspect posted pro-Islamic State messages on his Facebook account.
The Shin Bet has issued past warning saying that the phenomenon of Arab Israelis traveling to combat arenas in Syria and Iraq is an extremely dangerous development, due to the presence of hostile jihadist elements.
Volunteers undergo military training and receive exposure to radical jihadist ideology, the Shin Bet said. “There is a concern that they will be exploited by terrorist elements to carry out military activity against the state of Israel and/or gather information on targets in Israel.”
Security forces arrested an Arab-Israeli resident of Nazareth in February for going to Iraq to fight alongside Islamic State.
According to Shin Bet, the suspect was arrested upon his return at Ben-Gurion Airport, and subsequently confessed during questioning to fighting with Islamic State.
Before deciding to join the terrorist organization, Khaladi viewed Islamic State videos on the Internet which “influenced him deeply,” the Shin Bet added.