The Islamic State group claimed Thursday it had captured in Syria an Israeli Arab from Jerusalem who was recruited by the Israeli Mossad. Muhammad Musallam, 19, said in a supposed interview published in the English-language ISIS magazine Dabiq that he had been recruited by his Jewish neighbor, a police officer.
"He came to me one day and asked if I want to work for the Israeli intelligence," Mussalam was quoted saying. "I told him that I would think about his offer." He continued: "I was told to be sent to Syria. I was put in a house, paid a monthly salary of NIS [new Israeli shekels] 5,000 [$1,290] while they took care of my daily needs and of the documents I would be using."
His training allegedly included the use of weapons and communication skills. He said his mission was to spy on ISIS and collect information about weapons warehouses. He was also tasked with identifying Palestinians from the West Bank who had joined ISIS, according to the Jerusalem Post.
His family confirmed that Musallam, a former firefighter, traveled to join the Islamic State group three months ago. His father, Said Musallam, told the newspaper Haaretz that his son left Israel three months ago. "The next day I tried to call him and the telephone was turned off. I thought that maybe he was busy. After a week we got an email that he wanted to be a martyr and he was giving up everything in his life and his family. My children told me that he was in Syria and I believed it," Said Musallam said.
Musallam eventually made contact directly with his family. "I told him if you want to come back, come back. After a while, he told me that he wanted to come back and asked if I was able to send him money. I sent him $200 to an Egyptian address that he gave me," his father said. "He wasn't religious, he was a regular kid, everyone loved him."
A number of Israeli Arabs have reportedly joined the Islamic State, which has attracted roughly 20,000 foreign fighters, according to the Times of Israel. In January, a Nazareth man was arrested in Israel after joining the Islamic State to fight in Iraq.