TEL AVIV: Israeli prosecutors filed charges Wednesday against a Belarus-born immigrant accused of seeking to join the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Syria, security and justice sources said.
Valentin Mazlevski, 39, who immigrated to Israel in 1996, is the first Jewish-born Israeli to be charged for having IS ties, according to the Shin Bet domestic security service.
He was arrested in February, a few weeks after a failed attempt to fly from Israel to Turkey, from where he allegedly planned to cross into Syria to join IS forces, according to the indictment released by the justice ministry.
In 2000, while performing compulsory service in the Israeli military, Mazlevski converted to Islam after meeting the Israeli Arab Muslim woman who would become his wife and mother of his five children.
According to the charge sheet, Mazlevski had recently become interested in IS and frequently viewed its online content.
He is accused of joining IS internet forums, and in July 2016 Israeli security forces warned him against taking part in IS activities.
Paying no heed, Mazlevski allegedly made contact with jihadists and planned on joining IS fighters in Syria and later in Sinai, though both plans failed to materialise.
On January 16 he was prevented from boarding a plane to Turkey with a one-way ticket, and arrested the next month, according to the indictment.
He was charged at the Nazareth District Court with being in contact with IS, attempting to travel to an enemy state, and obstruction of justice.
Israel added IS to its list of terrorist organisations in October 2015.
Several Arabs from northern Israel have been arrested for alleged links with IS and around 50 Arab Israelis are now believed to be among its ranks in Syria and Iraq.
The Shin Bet said IS was creating a false impression that life under its rule was good, and that joining its fighting forces would be a “religious and military adventure.”
The Shin Bet said it considered IS supporters in Israel “a severe security threat”.
Also on Wednesday, the court administration said the Jerusalem District Court had sentenced Muaad Abed Rabbo, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, to four and a half years in prison over a failed 2015 attempt to enter Syria and join IS in 2015.
Abed Rabbo subsequently began collecting materials for a bomb that would be used “in the name of IS,” the sentencing from February 16 read.
It said he had pleaded to the charges in a plea-bargaining agreement.