Arabic sabers and curve daggers
Arabic sabers and curve daggersiStock

The Nazareth Magistrate's Court convicted Nazem Abu Salim, who served as Imam at the Shihab a-Din mosque in Nazareth, on charges of incitement to violence, terror, and support for a terror organization.

The court ruled that Abu Salim, in the framework of his post and using his high office, disseminated incitement and delivered sermons to a large group of worshipers, to spread the ideology that guided the Al-Qaeda terror organization and incite worshipers to violence.

An indictment was filed in November 2010 for incitement to violence, terror, and support for a terror organization after the Attorney General approved its submission. After the parties reached a procedural arrangement, the verdict was handed down and the defendant was convicted of the offenses attributed to him in the indictment. After hearing the arguments for the sentence, the court sentenced Abu Salim to three years in prison and an 18-month suspended sentence.

Abu Salim filed an appeal with the District Court, claiming his lawyer failed to represent him, and at his request the date for the start of the prison sentence was delayed.

In May 2013, the judgment was given on his appeal. The District Court accepted the claim of failure in representation, overturned the verdict, ordered the case returned to the Magistrate's Court for the purpose of cross-examining an expert on behalf of the prosecution, swearing the defendant, and submitting a counter-opinion by the defense.

After hearing the expert testimony on behalf of the prosecution, the defense's expert, and Abu Salim's testimony, summations were again submitted by the parties, and the court handed a second conviction.

In the framework of the decision, the court reviewed the length of the proceedings in the case, emphasizing that it did so in order to demonstrate the ongoing effort it has made over the years to bring progress in the proceedings, despite constant attempts by the defense to stretch them out for any number of possible reasons, some justified and mostly unjustified.

The court ruled that "the sermons attributed to the accused in the indictment were carried out against the background of current events: the killing of Al-Qaeda operatives, a military operation in Gaza, the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark, and the Pope's visit to Israel. The Defendant made extensive and effective use of those events to inflame the audience and create, through this manipulation, fertile ground for the content he wished to convey, including calls for revenge, killing, and violence."

Nazareth mosque (illustrative)
Nazareth mosque (illustrative)Flash 90

"The defendant's publications called for violent retaliation against traitors, infidels, and enemies, while encouraging and expressing support for violence at the highest and most dangerous level of violence.

"The main manifestations of his remarks about this violence were slaughter, fight, wage war. The Defendant also noted that this was the religion of war, the religion of warfare, and the religion of victims. He called for beheadings and said the infidels must be uprooted by the sword. He also mentioned Muslim law according to which whoever offends Muhammad is executed."

The court ruled that "the defendant's words included an explicit call to commit murder, killing, and harming those who do not share Islam as he sees it, and also to traitors among Muslims who do not accept the ideology of this faction of Islam and, of course, the United States and its citizens."

In addition, the court ruled that "the Defendant's unequivocal goal was to identify with Al-Qaeda and its ideology and to cause others to internalize the ideology and support for the terror organization and even to promote these goals. The Defendant was not only aware of the real possibility that his publications would cause others to commit these crimes, but this was his explicit and declared purpose."

Salim has indeed managed to continue operating while evading the justice system for years. In 2010 police decided to arrest him following a confession from a suspect in the murder of Jewish cab driver. The suspect admitted to the killing, and said he was motivated by Salim's teachings.

On November 30, 2009, the suspect and two other members of the group decided to murder a Jewish cab driver. The three - Ahmed Ahmed, Aleb Ghanem, and Heider Ziadna - began by ordering a cab from the nearby Jewish city of Nazareth Illit. One of the Muslims entered the cab, and when it reached its destination, shot and killed the driver, 54-year-old father Yafim Weinstein.

In addition to murdering Weinstein, the Nazareth Islamic cell inspired by Salim targeted Jews and Christians on several other occasions. Members of the cell are accused of brutal beatings, stabbings, arson, and firebomb attacks.

Abu Salim has been known for his positions on Israel and America. He is accused of distributing fliers and setting up a website to publicize his views, including support for global terrorism and Al-Qaeda. Prosecutors then said Salim published messages put out by Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin-Laden.

He has accused Israel of deliberately murdering Arab civilians. About the United States he said, “True Islam wants to live faithfully, with mercy for the weak; standing opposite is the world's wicked empire, America.”

Nazareth mosque (illustrative)
Nazareth mosque (illustrative)iStock