Syrian civil war participation of Israeli Arabs concerns Shin Bet

( Israeli Arabs who have traveled to Syria to try to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime could return to Israel better trained and more extremist, officials in the Shin Bet security agency said, Israel Hayom reported.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Shin Bet is concerned that Israeli Arab rebels trying to topple Assad in the Syrian civil war will return to the Jewish state more extremist. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hundreds of fighters from Arab countries and across Europe have flocked to Syria over the past year to join rebels in their fight against Assad in the Syrian civil war. An estimated 15 to 30 Israeli citizens are thought to have traveled to Syria to join in the fighting.

“This is an international phenomenon, so I’m not all that surprised that Israeli Arabs are connected to it,” said Yonathan Pine, an expert in international extremist religious groups at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. “This is indeed is a marginal phenomenon in Israel, but we need to keep our fingers on the pulse of the issue.”

The Shin Bet security agency expressed greater concern over the “dangerous” phenomenon. Chief among those concerns is that fighters could return from Syria with better combat training and more extremist ideas. 

Posted on October 3, 2013 .