A Canadian national faces federal charges in the United States over his involvement in ISIS propaganda videos; federal prosecutors said Saturday, Oct. 2.
The 38-year-old man, Mohammed Khalifa, is a Saudi-born Canadian and is fluent in English and Arabic.
According to a Department of Justice news release, the United States believed he was behind the recruit videos distributed by ISIS.
The materials made for Western audiences were notorious for highly disturbing execution scenes. However, the propaganda scheme was thwarted in 2017 as the militia group lost its territory, the BBC noted.
The man was arrested outside the U.S. three years ago and was recently moved to the Eastern District of Virginia to be under the FBI’s seizure.
Officials learned that Khalifa joined ISIS back in November 2013 when he traveled to Syria. Because of his language ability, the extremist group had him in its Media Bureau.
They believed he had his hands behind nearly 15 recruit videos ISIS produced.
“Mohammed Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence,” Raj Parekh, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement released by the Department of Justice.
“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 continued.
Khalifa could be sentenced to life behind bars if convicted of the Federal charges he faces.
According to the BBC, however, Khalifa denied that he was anything related to the recruitment materials. Instead, he said he had been a low-level fighter for the group and only contributed “the voice” for the material.
The FBI disagreed with his description.
They said he had been “one of the leading figures in ISIS’s English media section,” and that he “actively participated” in armed attacks for the terrorist group.
“Just prior to his capture by the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] on or about Jan. 13, 2019, Khalifa engaged in armed conflict on behalf of ISIS, including throwing grenades against opposing combatants,” the DOJ statement wrote.
The FBI believed Khalifa directed both the 2014 movie trailer-style video “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun” and its 2017 sequel “Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour.”
Khalifa’s alleged involvement in other videos depicted execution scenes of foreign nationals and bragging about ISIS’s attack in Paris, France; Brussels, Belgium; and Nice, France.
Steven M. D’Antuono is the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
He said, “The charges announced today, which are the result of years of diligent work by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and our partners, are a reminder to those who continue to support ISIS around the world that the U.S. Government has not forgotten your crimes.”
“We will find you and hold you accountable,” D’Antuono added.