An Israeli court sentenced a Jewish-born Israeli citizen to 38 months in prison for attempting to join the Islamic State, according to The Times of Israel.
Valentin Mazlevski immigrated to Israel from Belarus in 1996. He converted to Islam while in the army after meeting an Arab Muslim women he went on to marry and have five children with. He later became interested in extremist ideas online and joined jihadi forums.
In 2016, Israeli security services warned him not to attempt to join the Islamic State, but he tried to anyway. In February 2017, he was arrested after he tried to enter Syria via Turkey to join the ISIS.
Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, said he was the first Jewish-born Israeli to be charged with ISIS-related offenses.
Mazlevski is far from the only recent convert to attempt to travel to Syria.
In October 2017, Jack Letts, 21, from Oxford, England, was charged with attempting to join the Islamic State. Letts, dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the British press, traveled to Syria in 2014. He left in May 2017 and was captured by Kurdish forces. He claims he hired a smuggler to help him escape ISIS territory once he realized they who they were.
“I hate them more than the Americans hate them,” Letts reportedly told the BBC in June. “I realized they were not upon the truth, so they put me in prison three times and threatened to kill me.”
This contrasts with Letts previous accusations that the U.S. commits more war crimes than ISIS.
“Despite the media frenzy surrounding them, I’ve never seen ISIS kill Muslim kids,” he told The Independent in January 2016. “I have, however, seen the coalition do so.”
The overwhelming majority of converts, of course, do not go on to become to terrorists. The Islamist ideology can, however, draw in anyone, including those who do not grow up in the Muslim faith.
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