TEL AVIV – Haifa District Court on Tuesday sentenced an Israeli-Arab teacher and mother of five to 22 months in prison after being caught in Turkey en route to join the Islamic State group in Syria.
Iman Ahmed Mohamed Kanjou, 44, a teacher from the northern city of Shfaram, confessed to being in contact with an Islamic State terrorist on Facebook. She was arrested in Turkey as she was making her way to the border with Syria.
After being deported from Turkey, Kanjou has been held in Israeli custody since August 2015 before being convicted in a plea bargain. She was also given a year’s suspended sentence that will only go into effect if she contacts an Islamic State operative in the three years following her arrest. She was also ordered to pay a fine of NIS 30,000 ($7,750).
Kanjou’s husband, an imam in Shfaram, had no knowledge that his wife had traveled to Turkey and reported her disappearance to the police.
Judge Tamar Sharon Natanel said in her ruling that she took into consideration the pain that Kanjou’s allegiance to the Islamic State caused her family “who did not know a thing about her actions and plans. The heart breaks at the sight of the small children, who do not have their mother with them, and they are completely innocent. They surely miss her and feel her absence each and every day and hour. I have no doubt that the life of the entire family changed for the worse since the defendant left Israel.”
She added that the defendant expressed remorse after confessing, saying that “her only wish is to return to her family and dedicate all of her life to being a wife and mother,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
Kanjou, who holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, had told the IS representative she was in touch with that she would be able to teach ideology to new recruits.
Kanjou’s father accompanied her to Turkey with the intention of joining IS, but regretted it when they arrived in Istanbul. However, Kanjou admitted that she was determined to persevere with her goal of meeting IS agents.
According to Israel’s security agency Shin Bet, at least 40 Israeli-Arabs have joined the Islamic State over the past two years. During that time, five Israeli-Arab teachers were indicted for promoting jihadist ideology and expressing support for IS in the classroom.