In a joint operation with local police, the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) arrested six Arab residents of the town of Hura in the Negev who formed a cell of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, authorities released for publication Monday.
An initial investigation revealed that the cell members conducted secret meetings in which they learned and discussed ISIS's radical Islamist ideology, while some of them actively worked to recruit friends and family members and encouraged them to travel to join ISIS in Syria.
Several of the group also planned to travel to Syria themselves.
Shockingly, four of those arrested were teachers at a school in the Negev. Investigators say they used their positions to try to brainwash children and encourage them to join ISIS as well.
In addition to those arrested, several other teachers and staff members - including the headteacher of one Negev school - have been questioned under suspicion of withholding knowledge of their colleagues' jihadist activities from authorities, and not acting to stop them.
The headteacher - who has not been named - denies having any knowledge of the extremist activity at his school.
Security services believe that several Israeli Arabs who previously traveled to Syria to join ISIS were part of the same cell.
The arrested suspects have been named as:
- Bashir Jabrin Salim Abu Alkian (26). A teacher at a local elementary school, he was arrested on May 17, and admitted under interrogation to spreading ISIS propaganda via social media, as well as by sending ISIS propaganda videos to family members, friends and other associates.
- Akhram Aleb Ahmad Abu Alkian (30), also a teacher at a local elementary school. He was arrested several weeks later on June 2, and admitted under interrogation to supporting ISIS and helping set up the cell.
- Mohammed Aleb Ahmad Abu Alkian (27). A teacher at a local high school, he admitted to similar charges as the previous cell members, as well as making plans to travel to Syria on July 15 and join ISIS, under the guise of embarking on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
- Issa Shuhada-Khadr Hassan Abu Alkian (27). Arrested on June 13, he admitted to taking part in meetings conducted by the cell, and similarly of planning to travel to Syria and join ISIS on July 15 under the pretense of a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
- Sharif Shahada Razaq Abu Alkian. The youngest member of the cell (23), he also admitted to joining the cell and planning to travel to join ISIS in Syria with two other cell members.
- Hamza Abed Ali Abu Alkian (27), also a teacher, admitted to joining the same cell.
All were indicted in a Be'er Sheva court on a wide range of terrorism charges.