JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli court indicted a couple Thursday for joining the extremist Islamic State group with their three young children.
According to the charge sheet, Wissam, 41, and Sabrine Zbeidat, 30, of the Arab city of Sakhnin traveled to Turkey while on a family vacation in Romania in 2015. From there, they slipped across the border into neighboring Syria.
The indictment detailed that IS militants collected the family's Israeli passports and brought the new recruits to the Iraqi city of Mosul, an IS stronghold. The indictment says Wissam Zbeidat underwent military and ideological training and was injured while fighting in the ranks of IS against the Iraqi army.
A fifth of Israeli citizens are Arab. IS in Israel does not have widespread support, but the Shin Bet intelligence agency estimates that 50 Arab citizens of Israel have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join the group in recent years.
The Zbeidat family eventually tried to leave IS because of the dangers of life in Mosul and the lack of schools, according to the indictment. The Shin Bet said family helped them pay smugglers to extricate them. They attempted to sneak back into Turkey 10 times, sometimes drugging their youngest daughter to prevent the child from crying and drawing the attention of authorities. When they finally succeeded, Turkish police arrested them.
Turkish authorities sent the family to Israel in September, where they were arrested, according to the indictment. They face charges of contact with a foreign agent, membership in an outlawed organization, membership in a terrorist group, aiding an illegal group and undergoing unlawful military training.