Is Islamic State ideology stoking a fresh wave of terror in Israel?

Analysis: Two attacks perpetrated by Arab Israeli nationals affiliated with the murderous group in less than a week should serve as a rude awakening for Israel as Islamist terror rears its ugly head from an unexpected molehole

Details are still murky on the motives that drove two gunmen to open fire in the middle of a residential area in the northern city of Hadera on Sunday, killing at least two police officers, but their identity is another grim reminder of the tumultuous reality in Israel.
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  • Ibrahim and Ayman Agbarriya — two cousins from the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, just miles away from the scene of the attack — arrived in the northern city by car, carrying at least three pistols, several knives, and over 1,100 rounds of ammunition with them.
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    זירת הפיגוע
    זירת הפיגוע
    Police forces that the scene of a terrorist attack in Hadera that left at least two police officers dead, March 27, 2022
    (Photo: AFP)
    They went on a deadly shooting spree that only ended a few solid minutes later when several special forces police officers who were dining at a nearby restaurant heard the shots, ran to the scene and opened fire at the terrorists who were lurking behind a bus.
    One of the terrorists — Ibrahim — was arrested and convicted in 2016 for trying to join the Islamic State during the group's heyday when it ruled large chunks of Syria and Iraq.
    In his investigation, the then-23-year-old said that he got radicalized by watching videos of the group published online and began sympathizing with its ideology. He decided to travel to Syria and join its ranks.
    Before leaving Israel, he disassembled his computer's hard drive and placed it in a plastic jar of water in order to destroy any trace of the Islamic State videos that were stored on it as well as his browsing history.
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    Ayman and Ibrahim Agbarriya
    After gathering information online about ways to enter Syria, Agbarriya took off for Istanbul with $2,300 and NIS 750, which he converted into Turkish currency.
    From there he switched to a connecting flight to the city of Gaziantep near the border with Syria. During his stay in Gaziantep, he was detained by the local police and deported back to Israel after a few days of interrogation.
    Upon his return to Israel, Agbarriya was arrested, tried and convicted for trying to join a terrorist group and served time in jail. But it seems like the Islamic State's murderous ideology kept burning inside him.
    The attack in Hadera comes mere days after another Arab Israeli national with ties to the group — 35-year-old Mohammad Abu al-Kian from the southern Bedouin of Hura — went on a stabbing rampage that left four Israelis dead.
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    תיעוד רגעי נטרול המחבל
    תיעוד רגעי נטרול המחבל
    Knife-wielding Mohammad Abu al-Kian lunges at a civilian at a mall in Be'er Sheva
    Abu al–Kian was also previously arrested for attempting to reach Syria and join the Islamic State forces in 2016, and was sentenced to six years in prison after signing a plea deal.
    During his sentencing hearing, he expressed regret for his decision, and the judge then wrote that his contrition appeared genuine. He was ultimately released in 2019.
    Agbarriya and Abu al-Kian are just two of dozens of Israeli Arabs who tried to join the vicious terror group and are now roaming free after serving measly jail sentences. That goes without mentioning countless others who never acted out on their dream to join the bloodthirsty Islamists.
    The proximity of the two attacks that managed to sneak under the radar of Israel's intelligence and security apparatuses, especially now before Ramadan and Passover are set to overlap, should serve as a rude awakening to all of us for fear they may inspire more copycats.
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