US indicts Canadian jihadist who narrated videos for Islamic State

WASHINGTON — A Canadian jihadist who fought for the Islamic State group and narrated violent propaganda videos has been taken into custody by the United States and charged, the US Justice Department says.

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 IS resulting in death, says a Justice Department statement.

It says that he left Canada in 2013 to join the IS 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 Islamic State 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,” says Acting US Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia, using another acronym for Islamic State.

“Through his alleged leading role in translating, narrating, and advancing ISIS’s 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 says.

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

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