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Middle east

Khattab, an Arab-Israeli jihadist in Syria

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-06

Khattab is one of the few Arab Israelis fighting beside rebels who oppose Assad's regime in Syria. FRANCE 24 talked to him about his decision to leave a home and job in Israel to “perform his duty of jihad” despite his lack of military training.

Islamists from all corners of the globe have joined the jihadist rebel groups fighting against President Bashar al Assad in Syria. But, unlike many of the others, Khattab is not Saudi, Tunisian or Iraqi.

He is an Arab Israeli (a Palestinian with an Israeli passport), who told FRANCE 24 that he decided to “perform his duty of jihad in Syria” despite a lack of military skill or experience.

Khattab says he decided to take action because he was revolted by what he called “the inaction of the international community, while Syrians have been massacred for more than two years”. He was moved by “the images repeatedly broadcast on news channels”.

The twenty-year-old recently left his home in the northern Israeli city of Haifa and his job as a mechanical engineer (for which he frequently travelled to the UK) “after having established contact with certain people in Syria via social networking sites”.

Arriving first in Turkey, Khattab was picked up at the Syrian border and taken to the city of Aazaz and then toward the north-western Latakia region.

Today Khattab is fighting with the al Nusra Front, a group affiliated with al Qaeda and considered a terrorist organisation by the UN. He is preparing to go to the former rebel stronghold of Homs after having already fought in battles in the Hama region.

Though it is extremely rare to stumble upon jihadis who hold an Israeli passport in Syria, Khattab says he has met a few in the north, near Latakia and Idlib.

One of them, Muayyed Zaki Jumaa Ighbariya, an Arab Israeli who, like Khattab, is a member of the al Nusra front, was killed in fighting in September. He is thought to have been the first Israeli citizen to die in the Syrian conflict.

Date created : 2013-10-06


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