Islamic State figure pleads guilty to aiding terrorist group

Dec 10, 2021, 4:55 PM | Updated: 5:20 pm

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Canadian citizen who traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State group nearly a decade ago pleaded guilty Friday to serving as one of the organization’s more prominent English-language propagandists.

Mohammed Khalifa, 38, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death, at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III accepted the plea.

According to court records, Khalifa left Canada for Syria in 2013 after being inspired by the lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. cleric who later became a leading figure in al-Qaeda.

Prosecutors said Khalifa narrated two notorious Islamic State propaganda videos — “Flames of War” in 2014 and “Flames of War II” in 2017 — designed to recruit Westerners to join the Islamic State or to kill Westerners as part of an international holy war campaign.

Khalifa also fought on the battlefield, according to prosecutors. He was captured by Syrian Defense Forces in 2019 and held overseas until he was brought to Virginia earlier this year to face charges.

According to an FBI affidavit, Khalifa told FBI agents he expected to be sent to an Islamic State training camp when he joined the organization in late 2013. Instead, he was recruited to join the organization’s media department because of his English language skills and spent nearly five years as a leader in their English-language propaganda unit, it said.

The affidavit said Khalifa narrated numerous videos besides “Flames of War” and its sequel, which show prisoners being executed and decapitated. In another video, titled “Inside the Khilafah,” Khalifa urges listeners, if they aren’t able to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State, to instead “terrorize the disbelievers with your jihad outside the khilafah by targeting them and shedding their blood.”

Khalifa told agents he was captured in January 2019 when he defied an Islamic State order to flee from advancing forces in Shafaa, Syria. Instead, he said, he launched a solo attack of sorts on Syrian Defense Forces, surrendering after his AK-47 rifle jammed.

In a news release announcing the guilty plea, federal prosecutors said the “Flames of War” videos include scenes of a masked Khalifa executing a different Syrian soldier in each of the two videos — while other masked ISIS members also shoot the prisoners kneeling in front of each of them.

Khalifa is scheduled to be sentenced on April 15. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehi...
Associated Press

Lithuanian crowdfunding drive gets Ukraine an armed drone

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuania will present a combat drone to Ukraine that was donated by the Turkish manufacturer after a private crowdfunding campaign among ordinary Lithuanians, who raised nearly 6 million euros ($6.1 million) for the purpose within days. The campaign’s success inspired Turkey’s Baykar defense company, which makes the Bayraktar TB2 drone, to […]
6 hours ago
Abortion-rights activists chant after handcuffing themselves to the front steps of Los Angeles City...
Associated Press

EU Parliament condemns US abortion ruling, seeks safeguards

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly condemned the end of constitutional protections for abortion in the United States and called for such safeguards to be enshrined in the EU’s fundamental rights charter. In a 324-155 vote with 38 abstentions, European Parliament lawmakers adopted a resolution that crystalized the anger seen in […]
6 hours ago
A hiring sign is displayed at a gas station as a customer walks past in Buffalo Grove, Ill., Thursd...
Associated Press

U.S. jobless claims rise to 235k, most in nearly six months

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week and while layoffs remain low, it was the fifth consecutive week that claims topped the 230,000 mark and the most in almost six months. Applications for jobless aid for the week ending July 2 rose to 235,000, up 4,000 from the previous week and […]
6 hours ago
FILE - From left, British Health Secretary Sajid Javid, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and...
Associated Press

Conservative contenders who could succeed Boris Johnson

LONDON (AP) — A Conservative leadership contest will take place in coming weeks after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday he is resigning as the party’s leader — though he will continue to serve as prime minister until a successor is elected by party members. A look at the candidates who could succeed Johnson […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Rights groups say probe into Egypt economist’s death flawed

CAIRO (AP) — Two leading human rights groups on Thursday accused Egyptian authorities of failing to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation into the suspicious death of an economic researcher in custody. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused Egyptian prosecutors of having turned a blind eye to “mounting evidence” that […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Pleasure boats tied to a pier rest on dry ground of the water depleted Zezere River due to d...
Associated Press

Heat, drought and wildfires: Torrid spell torments Portugal

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal is bracing for a heat wave, with temperatures in some areas forecast to climb as high as 43 C (109 F) this weekend just as a severe drought grips the country. The Civil Protection Agency, a Portuguese government body that coordinates official responses to emergencies, said Thursday it is placing […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Islamic State figure pleads guilty to aiding terrorist group