Virginia Man Who Allegedly Joined ISIS to Appear in US Court
The Virginia man who allegedly fought for ISIS before being captured by Kurdish forces is now back on U.S. soil to face federal terrorism-related charges, the Justice Department announced today.
He is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Mohamad Khweis, 26, was captured by Kurdish Peshmerga military forces in March after leaving an ISIS-controlled neighborhood, according to federal authorities. He had left his home in Alexandria, Virginia, in mid-December and traveled through England and Turkey to join ISIS in Syria, authorities said.
Once in Iraq, he and others stayed in an ISIS safe-house in Raqqa, Syria, where they went through an ISIS “intake process” and where Khweis allegedly volunteered to be a suicide bomber, the Justice Department said.
After his capture in March, Khweis told Kurdish news outlet k24 that he ended up in Mosul, a large ISIS-controlled city in Iraq, after meeting a woman.
“At the time I made the decision, I was not thinking straight. On the way there I regretted, and I wanted to go back home after things didn’t work out and saw myself living in such an environment,” he said. Khweis said conditions in Mosul are “very difficult.”
“I stayed there about a month, and I found it very, very hard to live there. I decided to return back home,” he explained. According to Khweis, he regretted “going off with Daesh,” an alternate term for ISIS, and was trying to make contact with Kurdish forces when he was captured Monday.
At the end of the interview, Khweis addressed the American people directly and said, “Life in Mosul is really, very bad. The people who control Mosul don’t represent a religion.”
A video posted on social media at the time appeared to show the young man’s surrender.
A U.S. counterterrorism official told ABC News in March that Khweis had not been on the radar of American security or intelligence agencies. U.S. officials have said they suspect nearly 250 Americans have traveled to, or have attempted to travel to, Iraq or Syria to join extremists groups.
ABC News’ Jon Williams, Kirit Radia, Alexander Marquardt, Rhonda Schwartz, Michael Birnkrant and Lee Ferran contributed to this report.