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Israel indicts 2 citizens for joining Islamic State in Mosul

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Sabareen Zabidat

An Arab-Israeli couple was arrested last month after returning from a year of living under and fighting for the Islamic State terror group in Iraq with their three children, Israeli security officials said Thursday.

The mother and father, Sabarin and Wissam Zabidat, are from the Israeli town of Sakhnin and were indicted Thursday for joining a terrorist organization, according to an investigation by Israel's internal security agency the Shin Bet.

According to the Shin Bet, investigations revealed that the couple had chose to try to return to Israel in June after Wisam was injured during a raid on an Iraqi military post and transferred to Mosul for medical treatment. They repeatedly attempted to cross into Turkey, and were arrested there after they finally succeeded.

Details of the case were permitted for publication as northern district state prosecutors filed indictments against the couple at the Haifa District court on 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. "I chose to return to Israel but that doesn't mean that I regret what I did", said Wisam to Channel 2 Online.

According to the Shin Bet, investigations revealed that the couple had chose to try to return to Israel in June in light of the worsening situation in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

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A fifth of Israeli citizens are Arab.

After completing his training, Zbeidat was responsible for maintaining Islamic State facilities near the combat zone and later took part in raids on Iraqi army positions. The conditions were unsanitary and they had no access to medical care or basic medication. Their three children went to IS-sponsored schools in Mosul.

According to the Shin Bet release, the Zabidats described local IS fighters and administrators enforcing discriminatory laws, in particular against women, and using cruel methods of punishment such as beheadings, cutting off limbs and lashings. They said a "morality police" enforced the dress code for women and measured the length of men's beards. Several times they came under fire from both the Turkish military and from Islamic State fighters. The Shin Bet said family helped them pay smugglers to extricate them.

After eventually entering Turkish territory however, the couple was arrested by Turkish police and placed in a detention camp.

Haaretz has learned that the couple's families were not aware at first of the two's intention to join ISIS, and began working to return them to Israel.

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