A Canadian jihadist who fought for the Islamic State group and narrated videos of violent propaganda has been arrested by the United States and charged, the Justice Department said on Saturday.
Mohammed Khalifa, born in Saudi Arabia, was captured in an exchange of fire in January 2019 by Syrian forces dominated by Kurds allied with the United States.
The 38-year-old was handed over “recently” to US authorities and charged in Virginia with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS which resulted in the death, according to a Justice Department statement.
Khalifa left Canada in 2013 to join the Islamic State group in Syria, and the following year he became a key member of its propaganda team due to his fluency in English and Arabic, according to the communicated.
He is said to have served as the lead translator in the Islamic State’s propaganda production and as the English-speaking narrator on two violent recruitment videos.
The cell was behind videos showing the beheadings of foreigners including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who died in 2014.
He faces a life sentence in the United States. Canada also hopes to indict him, according to local media.
The Canadian government has indicated that it is in contact with local authorities on the matter and that its federal police are aware “that it will face charges” in the United States.
In an exchange of emails cited in the indictment, Khalifa defended the IS killings he was associated with.
“Mohammed Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence,” Acting US Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia said, using an another acronym for the Islamic State group.
According to the indictment, Khalifa’s “main objective” was “to induce ISIS supporters to travel to areas controlled by ISIS to join ISIS or to carry out attacks. attacks in the West, including the United States “.
The jihadist group, classified as a terrorist organization by the American authorities, is responsible for a wave of deadly attacks in Western countries.
Its emergence prompted the intervention of an international military coalition led by the United States, which succeeded in defeating the self-proclaimed “caliphate” even though ISIS is still present in many additional countries, notably in Africa and Asia. , and continues to pose a threat according to the United States. and European intelligence services.
“Glorified” murders, cruelty
In a 2019 interview with Canada’s CBC from his Syrian prison, Khalifa showed no regret for his actions. He said he wanted to return to Canada with his wife and their three children, but on condition that he would not be tried there.
“Through his allegedly prominent role in translating, narrating and promoting ISIS’s online propaganda, Khalifa has promoted the terrorist group, stepped up its recruitment efforts around the world, and broadened the reach of ISIS. videos that glorified the gruesome killings and indiscriminate cruelty of ISIS, ”Parekh said.
This is the first known indictment of a foreign ISIS fighter in America since President Joe Biden took power in January.
Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, two members of the notorious Islamic State kidnapping cell dubbed the “Beatles”, are currently in the hands of US authorities after being transferred from Iraq to the United States nearly one year.
The couple are accused of being involved in the murders of Foley and Sotloff, as well as those of aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.
Kotey, a former British national who was stripped of his citizenship, pleaded guilty in early September to charges of conspiracy to assassinate the four US hostages.