Israeli Arab paraglides into Syria, joins ISIS

Court indicts Israeli Arab who crossed into Syria and joined ISIS.

Uzi Baruch,

Illustration
Illustration
Istock

The Central District Prosecutor's Office submitted an indictment against Nidal Salah, a 26-year-old Arab from the Israeli Arab town of Jaljulia.

Salah crossed the Israeli-Syrian border in October 2015 via drone in order to join ISIS. He is being charged with leaving Israel illegally, joining a terror organization, giving information to Israel's enemies, contact with foreign agents, and other crimes.

Shabak (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police are investigating.

According to the indictment, during the months July-October 2015 Salah and a few acquaintances living in Jaljulia decided to leave Israel and travel to Syria in order to join ISIS, participate in their activities, and aid the war against the Syrian government.

It was also decided that some of the group would travel by plane from Israel to Turkey, crossing the Turkish-Syrian border on foot, while Salah and his friend Hussam Hagala would cross paraglide directly into Syria from Israel. To accomplish this, the two purchased paragliders, learning how to use them by watching instructional videos and practicing in open areas near Jaljulia.

At one point, the rest of their group announced hat they could no longer participate in the plan, for various reasons. After studying maps of the area around the Israeli border, Salah and Hagala arrived at their chosen departure point in the Golan Heights October 2015, attempting to take off towards Syria.

However, due to a technical issue with Hagala's paraglider, his attempts did not succeed and the two returned home to Jaljulia.

A few days later, Salah returned to the departure point and took off towards Syria. While he was still in the air, he managed to avoid shots fired at him from Syria. He landed successfully and spent the next two and a half years with ISIS forces, activists, and members, coming into contact with ISIS activists in various places in Syria and taking part in various ISIS activities, including "military" activities and other operations.

At the beginning of his time in Syria, Salah was arrested, jailed, and brutally interrogated, including with threats, violence, and torture, by various ISIS members. He gave them information about Israel, and said that he arrived in Syria from Israel for the purpose of joining ISIS. He was recaptured after a failed attempt to escape.

Eventually, Salah won the ISIS members' trust. Upon his release, he officially joined ISIS, watching the terror organization's videos, including on how to prepare explosives. He also received weapons and carried out various exercises with them, and sent photographs of himself armed with the weapons to family and friends in Israel. Salah also helped ISIS members translate information from Hebrew to Arabic and contacted various Israeli sources asking them to join ISIS.

Salah also helped manufacture aircraft for the purpose of carrying weapons and taking photographs and videos. For this work, he received a monthly paycheck.

During his work with the aircraft, Salah participated in an experiment in which they loaded a bomb onto one of the aircraft, and he participated in discussions regarding the option of using such aircraft against Israel. He also attempted to build a small helicopter for ISIS, reaching an advanced stage. He fought in ISIS' battles, receiving from time to time large sums of money. In addition, Salah agreed to work to recruit additional ISIS members.

Following a battle fought by ISIS against the Syrian army, Salah fell captive to the Syrians. He managed to escape later, and in May 2018, Salah managed to smuggle himself into Turkey. On June 21, 2018, he flew from Turkey to Israel, accompanied by his family and lawyer, but was arrested upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

In the request to extend Salah's arrest until completion of legal proceedings against him, the Central District Prosecutor wrote, "In light of the severity, nature, and type of action, which are in essence identifying with a terror organization known for its unusual violence and brutality, there is good reason for believing this man will endanger the public security."








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