Oct 2, 2021 - World

Narrator of ISIS recruitment videos charged in Virginia

A wall depicting the Islamic State flag near the city of al-Qaim in Iraq in November 2017.
A wall depicting the Islamic State flag near the city of al-Qaim in Iraq in November 2017. Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images

An English-speaking narrator of many violent ISIS recruitment videos was charged on Saturday with conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group, resulting in death, prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia announced.

Why it matters: Prosecutors allege Mohammed Khalifa, a Saudi-born Canadian citizen, served in prominent roles within ISIS before he was captured by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in January 2019 and recently transferred into the custody of the FBI.

  • Khalifa allegedly served as an ISIS fighter in addition to being a lead English translator for the terrorist group’s violent propaganda and recruitment videos.

What they're saying: “As alleged, Mohammed Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence,” said acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh.

  • “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 added.

The big picture: The complaint alleges that Khalifa traveled to Iraq to join ISIS in or around November 2013 and was soon recruited to the terrorist group's media bureau because of his ability to speak English and Arabic.

  • In addition to producing and disseminating ISIS propaganda targeting Western audiences, Khalifa has been accused of participating in multiple armed hostilities on behalf of the terrorist group.

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