US charges Canadian who narrated ISIS videos

An image grab from a 2014 propaganda video shows ISIS militantss raising their weapons aboard a vehicle in Iraq's Anbar province.
An image grab from a 2014 propaganda video shows ISIS militantss raising their weapons aboard a vehicle in Iraq's Anbar province.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A Canadian militant who fought for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and narrated violent propaganda videos has been taken into custody by the United States and charged, the Justice Department said on Saturday (Oct 2).

Mohammed Khalifa, 38 and born in Saudi Arabia, was captured during a firefight in January 2019 by Kurdish-dominated Syrian forces allied with the US.

He was handed over "recently" to US authorities and charged in Virginia with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS resulting in death, says a Justice Department statement.

It says he left Canada in 2013 to join the ISIS group in Syria and by the next year had become a key member of its propaganda team because of his fluent English and Arabic.

Khalifa allegedly served as a lead translator in ISIS propaganda production and the English-speaking narrator on two violent recruitment videos.

This cell was behind videos showing the beheadings of foreigners including the US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who died in 2014.

In an exchange of emails cited in the charge sheet, Khalifa defended these killings.

"Mohammed Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence," said Acting US Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia.

"Through his alleged leading role in translating, narrating, and advancing ISIS' online propaganda, Khalifa promoted the terrorist group, furthered its worldwide recruitment efforts, and expanded the reach of videos that glorified the horrific murders and indiscriminate cruelty of ISIS," Parekh said.

This is the first known indictment of a foreign ISIS fighter in America since Joe Biden took power in January.