Ahmad Shurbaji (23) last Tuesday became the first Israeli citizen to be convicted of joining and fighting for the brutal Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization in Syria; in a follow up trial this Tuesday at the Haifa Magistrates Court he claimed he “made a mistake.”
Shurbaji, a resident of the northern Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, was charged with illegally exiting Israel to an enemy nation and taking part in illegal military training with a terrorist organization.
“In the first days, when I went into Syria and saw what was happening there, I understood the magnitude of the mistake that I will learn from the rest of my life,” Shurbaji said before Judge Orit Kantor, reports Channel 10.
“I wanted to return and I made contact with security sources to help me do that,” added the ISIS terrorist. “I want to compensate my family members who ran as far as Turkey after me to bring me back, and I also want to return to work, and to live in peace in the state of Israel.”
In Syria Shurbaji not only took part in an ISIS military camp, where he studied Islam and went through military training, but also took part in combat against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces by conducting military patrols to check the advance of Syrian forces.
Shurbaji’s father also appeared in court on Tuesday to serve as a character witness for his son, and said “he always grew up with good values, we always had Jewish guests. Throughout the course of events we told him this wasn’t the right path, that we strongly oppose his acts, and asked him to come back.”
Meanwhile the Israeli ISIS jihadist’s lawyer, attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, found a way to blame Israel for his client’s actions.
“In Israel they saw the downfall of Assad’s regime as a holy mission, and young Arabs traveled there. My client was investigated in Israel before leaving for Syria, and it was possible to issue an order banning him from leaving the state, but they didn’t bother to do so in a sort of silent agreement,” claimed Abu Hussein.
Shurbaji will be sentenced in another two months, and the Haifa district attorney has requested the maximal punishment for the crimes he has been indicted for.
In the ruling last Tuesday, Judge Kantor said the return of Israeli Arabs from jihad in Syria “contains a high potential danger for the state of Israel – in terms of using (military) knowledge, importing ideologies, accumulating military experience and establishing a connection between them and the world jihadist organizations while encouraging attacks against Israel.”
The ISIS member is not the only Arab citizen of Israel to have run afoul of the law in recent days for association with the brutal terrorist organization.
A 24-year-old Arab teacher from the town of Kafr Qara to the southeast of Haifa was arrested on Monday for identifying with ISIS. Police found in his home computers and media accessories, black ISIS flags, as well as numerous papers and original literature on the topic of jihad holy war, which he admitted to having brought from Jordan where he studied.