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Canadian citizen accused of narrating ISIS propaganda videos pleads guilty

Associated Press / Khalid Mohammed

A Canadian citizen accused of being the English-speaking narrator on multiple recruitment videos for the Islamic State (ISIS) pleaded guilty to aiding the terrorist organization on Friday. 

Saudi-born Canadian citizen Mohammed Khalifa, 38, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death, at a hearing in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III accepted Khalifa’s plea.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, according to the Associated Press. Khalifa’s sentencing is scheduled for April 15.

Khalifa, who also goes by “Abu Ridwan Al-Kanadi” and “Abu Muthanna Al-Muhajir,” traveled to Syria to join ISIS in Nov. 2013, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Khalifa said in an email that he was inspired to do this by Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who joined al-Qaeda before being killed in a 2011 drone strike, per court records.

Because of his fluency in both English and Arabic, Khalifa was recruited to join ISIS’s media department, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He allegedly spent more than four years in the department and assisted in translating approximately 15 videos distributed by the organization.

Prosecutors say he narrated the infamous ISIS propaganda film “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun,” released in 2014, and its 2017 sequel “Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour.” 

Each of those videos includes a scene in which Khalifa, wearing a mask, executes a Syrian soldier after speaking to the camera, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They also portray ISIS attacks in the U.S. and other violent scenes involving ISIS fighters.

Khalifa’s unit also publicized videos showing the murders of American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff, the FBI affidavit stated, according to an FBI affidavit.

Khalifa allegedly fought for ISIS, as well.

He was captured by Syrian Defense Forces in Jan. 2019 and held overseas before being brought to the U.S. to face charges. 

“As one of the leading figures in ISIS’s English media section, Mohammed Khalifa contributed to the radicalization of individuals through his English narration of ISIS recruitment propaganda,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office in a statement.

“While many Americans are aware of the brutal and violent crimes committed by many ISIS actors, ISIS’s efforts to radicalize individuals to travel to Syria and commit violence on its behalf were equally horrendous.”

Tags ISIS Islamic State Mohammed Khalifa Terrorism

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