Experts don’t think it’s highly likely that Islamic State cells posing a significant security threat will surface in Israel, but the Shin Bet Security Services and Israeli Defense Ministry are taking precautions in any case. On Wednesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the Islamic State “an unauthorized organization.”
Ya’alon tweeted a photo of the declaration that he signed. The tweet says: “Today I signed, on the recommendation of the Shin Bet Security Services,” a declaration of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Abdallah Azzam Brigades as unauthorized organizations.”
היום חתמתי, בהמלצת שב”כ, על הכרזה על התאחדות בלתי מותרת של ארגון המדינה האיסלאמית (דאעש) ושל גדודי עבדאללה עזאם. pic.twitter.com/Fx3C9zkT9x
— Moshe Bogie Ya’alon (@bogie_yaalon) September 3, 2014
(The Abdallah Azzam Brigades, in case you were wondering, is an Al-Qaida affiliate with presence in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.)
Ya’alon said the move was “necessary for the purposes of protecting state security, the public welfare and public order,” according to Haaretz. Declaring the group “unauthorized” means Israel can “halt the transfer of funds to any local groups affiliated with Islamic State and take legal action against its members or operatives,” the report said. The precaution is being taken in case IS cells surface in Israel or the West Bank.
What is an “unauthorized organization”? The Defense Ministry website (as per Haaretz’s translation) says it is:
“Any group of people that “suggests, incites or encourages” unauthorized activity including terrorism targeting the Israeli government and states that Israel may legally seize any assets of an unauthorized organization.”
Ya’alon’s declaration came after the Sunni militants terrorizing northern Iraq and Syria released a video showing the beheading of another U.S. journalist, Steve Sotloff, who Israel’s foreign ministry confirmed Wednesday was also an Israeli citizen. It also comes amid tensions on Israel’s northern border. A Haaretz report from Tuesday said that the area is “almost entirely controlled by Syrian rebels” (thought not yet Islamic State militants).
For more on rumours of Islamic State presence in Israel, have a read of my last post.