Jewish to Islam convert is sentenced in Israel for IS ties


Jerusalem (AFP) – An Israeli court on Monday sentenced a Jewish convert to Islam to 38 months in prison for seeking to join the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria.

Valentin Mazlevski, 40, a Belorussian immigrant who moved to Israel in 1996, was the first Jewish-born Israeli to be charged for having IS ties, according to the Shin Bet domestic security service.

He was arrested in February 2017, a few weeks after a failed attempt to fly from Israel to Turkey, from where he allegedly planned to cross into Syria to join IS forces.

The Nazareth district court said in its ruling that Mazlevski had “one goal: to join the organisation”.

He acted “out of identification with the organisation’s ideology,” in the process “violating the law and endangering the state’s security,” it said.

In 2000, while performing compulsory service in the Israeli military, Mazlevski converted to Islam after meeting the Israeli Arab Muslim woman who would become his wife and mother of his five children.

Mazlevski, who became interested in IS and frequently viewed its online content in recent years, joined the jihadist group’s internet forums, Israeli authorities said.

In July 2016, Israeli security forces warned him against taking part in IS activities, the sentencing read, but Mazlevski paid no heed and contacted jihadists in bids to join IS fighters in Syria and later in Sinai.

Both plans failed.

Shin Bet also revealed Monday it had arrested three Arab Israelis for allegedly planning to carry out shooting attacks at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem or against Jewish or Christian prayer sites.

“Two cell members support the murderous ideology of the Islamic State terrorist organisation and sought to perpetrate attacks in the context of this support,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Several Arabs from northern Israel have been arrested for alleged links with IS and around 20 Arab Israelis are now believed to be among its ranks in Syria and Iraq.

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