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ISA Press Release: Israeli Couple Indicted for Traveling to Syria and

Thursday, October 20, 2016 15:33
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ISA Press Release: Israeli Couple Indicted for Traveling to Syria and Iraq
and Joining Daesh
(Communicated by the ISA)

The following has been cleared for publication:

The ISA, in cooperation with the Israel Police, on 22 September 2016, at
Ben-Gurion International Airport, arrested Wissam and Sabarin Zabidat,
residents of Sakhnin, after they returned from Iraq along with their three
children, where they had joined Islamic State (“Daesh”).

In their investigation it was learned that before leaving [Israel] they had
been exposed to Daesh content and videos and were deeply influenced. As a
result, on 16 June 2015, they left for Romania, along with their three
children, ages 8, 6 and 3, where they attended a family event, and from
there traveled (without their relatives’ knowledge) to Turkey. In Turkey
they contacted – via Facebook – a resident of Umm al-Fahm, who had joined
Daesh in 2013, and, with his assistance, crossed the border, along with
their children, into Syria, aided by smugglers.

The couple and their children were absorbed into Daesh close to the
Syrian-Turkish border where their Israeli passports were taken from them and
they were transferred to Raqqa. Wissam Zabidat was separated from his family
and sent to a camp in Iraq where he underwent training and Daesh religious
and ideological studies. He was then sent to a military camp for military
training including shooting with an AK-47, PKS machine gun and RPG

Wissam was then sent to operational activity in the framework of which he
guarded Daesh installations close to the combat zone and participated in
raids on Iraqi Army positions. During one such raid he was wounded in the
foot and was evacuated to a hospital in Mosul.

Details were learned – in the investigation – about the living conditions of
the members of Wissam’s family. These included overcrowded housing without
water or electricity and in substandard sanitary conditions. The couple’s
children were without schooling for a lengthy period and were in the company
of other children some of whom had infectious diseases. At the start of the
current year the family members suffered a heavy bombardment that caused
widespread destruction and heavy casualties in their area of residence. The
children developed anxieties as a result.

Many details were also learned about the harsh routine under Daesh rule. For
example, the administration enacted discriminatory laws against women and
used brutal methods of punishment such as the amputation of limbs, lashings
and beheadings. A “morality police” enforced dress codes for women and
regarding the length of men’s beards. Daesh approved trafficking in Yazidi
women for housework and for sex. Children as young as 8 undergo military
training. Economic conditions in the city were harsh; hunger and poverty are

On 16 June, against the background of the harsh conditions in Mosul, the
couple decided to return to Israel. To this end, they contacted relatives
from whom smugglers and others demanded thousands of US dollars in order to
facilitate the couple’s return to Israel. The couple and their children
tried to cross from Syria into Turkey several times including by foot
through mountainous areas in harsh weather conditions without food or water.
During one of these attempts one of their children was drugged lest she
reveal their location. They were also shot at by Turkish soldiers and Daesh

After finally crossing into Turkey the couple were arrested by the Turkish
police and sent to a detention camp. They were released after several days
and were arrested upon arriving in Israel.

It should be emphasized that the phenomena of Israelis leaving for Syria and
Iraq is grave and dangerous. Daesh disseminates mendacious publications
designed to construct a distorted image of itself as allowing a good and
respectable life under an Islamic regime or, alternatively, of religious and
military adventure. However, the investigations of Israelis who have
returned from Syria and Iraq present a completely opposite picture about the
dangers and harsh living conditions under Daesh.

The State Attorney’s Office (Northern District), today (Thursday, 20 October
2016), in Haifa District Court, filed a severe indictment against the couple
for leaving for an enemy country and joining the Daesh terrorist


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