Daily Israel Report

Syrian Rebels Sought Intel on Israel

Israeli Arab who fought with ‘Global Jihad’ says rebels wanted intel on Israel. Security experts warn of ‘dangerous phenomenon.'
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/10/2013, 12:57 PM

Syrian rebels patrol in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur
Syrian rebels patrol in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur
AFP photo

An Israeli Arab man from Taibe has been arrested for illegally entering Syria and fighting with the Global Jihad rebel group.

The man, 28-year-old Hakhmat Othman Hassin Matsarwa, entered Syria with two goals: to join Global Jihad and fight the Syrian army, and to find his brother Hassin, who had left for Syria to fight with rebels several months earlier.

In Syria, he trained in a rebel camp. He told Israeli investigators that rebels asked him to carry out a suicide bombing targeting Assad’s regime, but he refused.

He was also asked many questions about Israel and the IDF, including questions regarding IDF weaponry and the nuclear plant in Dimona. He said he was asked to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel, but refused that suggestion as well.

Matsarwa was indicted Wednesday in the Lod District Court for several crimes, including contact with a foreign agent and illegal emigration.

Shin Bet commanders have warned that the phenomenon of Israeli Arab participation in the rebellion in Syria is extremely dangerous, due to the presence in Syria of individuals and groups hostile to Israel, particularly the Global Jihad.

Arab Israelis in Syria are exposed to an extremist anti-Israeli ideology, and there is reason to fear they will be used as a source of information on potential targets in Israel, and will be encouraged to attack Israel, they warned.

Some Syrian rebel groups have been linked to Hamas and to Al-Qaeda.