American Islamic State defector: I followed a girl into the caliphate

2016-78-3faff1b0-9d93-4d23-b022-21f593be004aMohamad Jamal Khweis has spoken for the first time about time inside Isil and his decision to escape

The Telegraph, by Raf Sanchez, March 18, 2016:

An American man who joined the Islamic State (Isil) only to escape weeks later has spoken for the first time, saying he followed a woman into the so-called caliphate and immediately regretted his decision.

Mohamad Jamal Khweis, a 26-year-old from Virginia, entered Isil territory in Syria in January but surrendered to Kurdish troops in northern Iraq this week after becoming disillusioned with the jihadist group.

He told the story of how he reached Iraq and how he escaped to a Kurdish television channel, offering a rare perspective from an Isil defector.

Mohamad Jamal Khweis, an American fighter with Isil, surrenders to Kurdish troops in Iraq

Mohamad Jamal Khweis, an American fighter with Isil, surrenders to Kurdish troops in Iraq

Khweis presented himself as a hapless young man who travelled with little direction from his home near Washington DC to London in mid-December and then on to Amsterdam and eventually Turkey.

In Istanbul, he said he met an Iraqi woman from Mosul whose sister had been married to an Isil fighter and who arranged transportation to Syria.

“I made a bad decision to go with a girl and go to Mosul. At the time I made the decision to go because I wasn’t thinking straight,” Khweis told Kurdistan 24. “On the way there I regretted it, I wanted to go back.”

The pair entered Syria together but were quickly separated. It is not clear if Khweis now believes the woman is an Isil recruiter who lured him in or just another foreign volunteer like himself.

US authorities will need to decide whether they believe Khweis’s version of events as they weigh whether to charge him with a crime. He is in Kurdish custody in Irbil but likely to return to the US soon.

It is not known if Khweis travelled to London and Amsterdam to meet with Isil sympathisers or was simply passing through on his way to Turkey.

Once in Turkey, Khweis said he was given the nickname Abu Omar, a common Isil nom de guerre, and then travelled through a series of way stations to Mosul.

The city is the second largest in Iraq and has been held by Isil since June 2014.

“It was pretty hard to live in Mosul. It’s not like the Western countries,” Khweis said.

He spent eight hours a day learning about Islam and the rest praying and eating, he said. “It’s very strict, there’s no smoking,” he said. The Kurdish footage shows him dragging on a cigarette.

He did not say if he was given any military training or was involved in any fighting while part of Isil.

As a foreigner who only occasionally went to mosque, he was put in classes to learn sharia law. “I didn’t really support their ideology and that’s the point when I decided I needed to escape,” he said.

He said a friend helped him reach the Sinjar district near the Iraqi border with Turkey, where Kurdish troops and Isil fighters face each other across the battlefield.

Khweis could offer valuable intelligence to the US about how foreign fighters are recruited into Isil.

The government then faces a choice about whether to prosecute him. A prosecution could deter others thinking of joining the jihadist group but might also discourage others like Khweis or are thinking of defecting.

Asked if he had any message for the American people, he said: “Life in Mosul is really bad. The people were controlling Mosul don’t represent the religion, Isil doesn’t represent the religion, I don’t see them as good Muslims.”

FBI Foils Islamist Terror Shooting in New York


On May 31, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen was arrested in Rochester, New York as he aspired to shoot U.S. soldiers and Shiite Muslims. He was angry at U.S. foreign policy, but the basis of his worldview was a belief in Islamist doctrine and that Shariagovernance must be fought for.

The criminal complaint says Mufid E. Elfeegh illegally purchased two unregistered firearms silencers so he could go on a shooting rampage against U.S. troops that returned from Iraq and Shiite Muslims. He expressed support for Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra, and Ansar al-Islam.

The complaint says Elfeegh sent out tweets “stating that people will have an honorable life under sharia law and that with grenades in their hands they are ready to die for the sake of Allah.”

He made it clear that he was fighting for the sake of global conquest by his version of Islam. He said that ISIS, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria and Iraq, “will one day rule the world with the will of Allah.”

His targeting of the U.S. was largely because he views the country as standing in the way of this objective.

“Al-Qaeda said it loud and clear. We are fighting the American invasion and their hegemony over the earth and its people,” he was recorded saying.

Read more at Clarion Project

From Syria to Stateside: New Al Qaeda Threat to US Homeland

Seen in this image is "Abu Dujana al-Amriki," who identifies himself as an alleged al Qaeda fighter from the U.S. American officials have not been able to identify the young man and suspect the video could be part of an Assad regime hoax.

Seen in this image is “Abu Dujana al-Amriki,” who identifies himself as an alleged al Qaeda fighter from the U.S. American officials have not been able to identify the young man and suspect the video could be part of an Assad regime hoax.

By :

Dozens of people from the U.S. who fought in Syria have returned home and are under FBI surveillance, but American officials fear that they haven’t identified all of them, several senior officials told ABC News in interviews beginning last October.

The senior officials said that more than 50 “U.S. persons” — a designation that covers both natural-born and naturalized citizens as well as those who have lived in the U.S. — have returned here after battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Middle Eastern nation’s bloody civil war. One of the senior counter-terrorism officials went further, saying the actual number of returning U.S. fighters from Syria is classified but is “much higher” than 50.

Not all of those who have returned are considered “jihadis” who adhere to the anti-U.S. violent ideology espoused by the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but many are suspected of such sympathies, officials say.

Al Qaeda-aligned jihadi commanders in Syria screen new American arrivals in the ranks of foreign fighters to recruit those with clean passports who have the capability to conduct future operations against the West, two national security officials told ABC News.

One of the officials compared that process of selection to how the U.S. military screens raw recruits for Special Operations Forces qualification courses.

FBI Director James Comey said Thursday the threat is one of his “greatest concerns.”

“My concern is that people can go to Syria, develop new relationships, learn new techniques and become far more dangerous, and then flow back,” Comey told reporters.

Previous estimates put the number of Americans in the Syrian conflict at 16, but researcher Aaron Zelin at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy in a report last month said as many as 60 from the U.S. may have fought among an estimated 11,000 foreign militants in Syria.

Read more at ABC News

How Should We Treat American Jihadists?


It is not possible to wage an effective war against an international terror network while simultaneously foreclosing the possibility that American traitors will be killed in military operations.

By Andrew C. McCarthy:

If a plane full of 200 American citizens is hijacked by foreign jihadists, the law does not tell us whether the president should shoot down the plane or let it be plowed into a skyscraper and kill 3,000 American citizens. It is the kind of excruciating decision that war makes necessary. Legal niceties do not tell us how to resolve it.

That is the problem with our debate over the treatment of U.S. nationals who join the enemy’s forces in wartime — most urgently, over the targeted killing of our fellow citizens. We want the legal answer. But the legal answer is not going to help us. Under the Constitution, Americans who join the enemy may lawfully be treated like the enemy, which includes being attacked with lethal force. That, however, tells us only the outer limits of what is permissible. It does not tell us what we need to know: What should we do?

The government’s war powers must be boundless, at least in theory. We must be able to marshal all our might to repel any conceivable existential threat. Yet the Constitution, the sole legitimate source of the government’s power to levy war, is, quintessentially, the citizen’s protection against aggression by that same government. Thus, the tension between government’s war powers and the citizen’s fundamental rights is a conundrum. It simply cannot be resolved with finality.

Neither side of our debate is satisfied with that. We want fixed rules. But fixed rules work only if they answer every conceivable hypothetical. So the debate lurches inexorably to worst-case scenarios.

Read more at National Review

 Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which is published by Encounter Books.

See also:

Report: Majority of Convicted Terrorists in U.S. Are American Citizens (