Leading ISIS Media Figure and Foreign Fighter Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Provide Material Support to a Terrorist Organization Resulting in Death | Takeover bid

A Canadian citizen of Saudi origin pleaded guilty today to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS), resulting in death.

According to court documents, Mohammed Khalifa, alias Abu Ridwan Al-Kanadi and Abu Muthanna Al-Muhajir, 38, held prominent positions within ISIS from 2013 until his capture by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in January 2019, following a shootout between ISIS fighters and the SDF. In addition to serving as a fighter and executing two Syrian soldiers on behalf of ISIS, Khalifa served as a senior translator in ISIS’s propaganda production and English-speaking narrator on several of the ISIS videos. Islamic state.

Khalifa traveled to Syria in the spring of 2013 with the intention of becoming a foreign fighter and eventually joining ISIS. He joined ISIS around November 2013 and swore allegiance to then ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In early 2014, he was recruited to join the ISIS Media Department in part due to his language skills as an English and Arabic speaker. Beginning in 2016, Khalifa led various fan networks which assisted in the translation, production and dissemination of propaganda published under various ISIS media brands in order to reach western audiences. He worked in ISIS’s media operation until the end of 2018.

Khalifa has provided narration and translation for approximately 15 videos created and distributed by ISIS. The productions narrated by Khalifa include two of the most influential and violent Daesh propaganda videos: “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun”, released September 19, 2014, and “Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour” , distributed on November 29, 2017. The videos feature glamorous depictions of ISIS and its fighters as well as scenes of violence, including depictions of unarmed prisoners being executed, footage of attacks and ISIS fighting; and depictions of ISIS attacks in the United States.

ISIS’s “Flames of War” videos include scenes of Khalifa executing a different Syrian soldier in each of the two videos. In the final scenes of both videos, a masked Khalifa speaks to the camera and is then seen executing a kneeling Syrian soldier while other masked ISIS operatives also shoot at the kneeling prisoners in front of each of them. them.

During Khalifa’s time as a prominent ISIS operative, the terrorist organization was waging a hostage-taking and ransom demand campaign involving journalists and aid workers from the United States, Britain and Europe. Between August 19, 2014 and February 6, 2015, ISIS killed eight American, British or Japanese citizens in Syria as part of the hostage-taking.

In January 2019, Khalifa engaged in fighting on behalf of ISIS and attacked an SDF position in Abu Badran, Syria. Khalifa, alone and armed with three grenades and an AK-47, threw a grenade at the roof of a house where SDF soldiers were standing. The grenade exploded and Khalifa ran into the house and attempted to climb up to the roof, but an SDF soldier was shooting from the stairs. Khalifa started shooting the SDF soldier and attempted to use his three grenades during the attack. Khalifa fired most of his ammo during the assault before his AK-47 crashed. Khalifa surrendered to the SDF on or around January 13, 2019 and was detained by the SDF. Earlier this year, he was transferred to FBI custody and taken to the Eastern District of Virginia, where he first appeared on October 4, 2021.

Khalifa has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death and is expected to be sentenced on April 15, 2022. Khalifa faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

US Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia; Deputy Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice; and Deputy Director-in-Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after U.S. District Judge TS Ellis III accepted the plea.

First Deputy U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh and Deputy U.S. Attorneys Dennis M. Fitzpatrick, John T. Gibbs, and Aidan Taft Grano-Mickelson for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Trial Attorney Alicia H. Cook of the Anti-Terrorism Section of the National Security Division are continuing this case. .

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