The Israeli Jew suspected of trying to join the Islamic State – Adam Taylor/Washington Post
A young Israeli Jew suspected of planning to join the Islamic State has been found in Turkey and returned to Israel, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem told reporters Tuesday. The 21-year-old had been taken in by police in the city of Iskenderun after the Israeli Embassy requested help, Haaretz newspaper reports, and family members flew to Turkey to escort him home.
The man has not been named, and it is not clear whether he will face charges. Sources in the Israeli Foreign Ministry have told reporters that they are treating the matter as a humanitarian rather than a security issue. Despite his age, the man was still under his parents’ legal guardianship, and Israeli authorities have not provided more details about the case due to what Haaretz describes as its “sensitive nature.”
Postings made by the man on Facebook had led his relatives to fear that he would attempt to reach Syria and join the Islamic State. According to the Jerusalem Post, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alon Lavi said the ministry had received a call Thursday from the man’s parents, concerned that their son had traveled to Crete with the intention of reaching Syria. The man then traveled from Crete to Izmir in Turkey and onward to Adana and finally to Iskenderun.
Israeli authorities have said they believe a few dozen Arab Israelis have traveled to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State, an extremist Islamist organization. In March, the Islamic State released a video that appeared to show a young child killing a man described as “an Israeli spy.” In the footage, 19-year-old Mohammad Said Ismail Musallam, originally from East Jerusalem, said he had been recruited by Mossad to spy on the Islamic State. His parents have denied that Musallam worked for Israeli intelligence and instead told The Washington Post that the Islamic State had “tricked” their son.
It is not clear whether other Israeli Jews have attempted to join the Islamic State. Last year, however, one French government official said that a number of Jews were among the 1,000 or so French citizens believed to have joined the Islamic State.