Muhammad Jamal Amin, an American who left the U.S. and tried to join up with ISIS, has been captured by Kurdish forces as the would-be jihadist tried to flee the terrorist organization, CBS News is reporting.
Sources with the Kurdish peshmerga military force say that a man approached a checkpoint near the Iraqi town of Sinjar. Guards fired warning shots at the man, whom they believed might be a suicide bomber, when the man surrendered and said he was trying to escape ISIS and flee back into Turkey.
Muhammad Jamal Amin, ISIS Jihadist From VIRGINIA, Surrenders At Peshmerga Checkpoint https://t.co/wSbFTQY47r pic.twitter.com/NNcWXHN0dUThe man then showed documents, including a Virginia driver's license, that identified him as Muhammad Jamal Amin, 27, an American who tried to join up with ISIS in Iraq. Amin said he had only been with ISIS for "a couple of months" before realizing the life of a jihadist wasn't for him, and tried to flee into Turkey.
— UJReview (@UJReview) March 14, 2016
American #ISIS fighter reportedly captured in #Iraq #MuhammadJamalAmin #Virginia https://t.co/vab6iaW7Bi pic.twitter.com/lPp0Zb4aG3Mashable reports that Amin also had "a large amount" of cash and three cell phones when he was captured.
— Trending Iraq News (@Iraqolizer) March 14, 2016
Amin appeared on Kurdish TV being questioned by a peshmerga commander. Amin said that he is from the United States, that his father is Palestinian and his mother is Iraqi, from the ISIS-occupied city of Mosul.
As of this writing, U.S. officials have neither confirmed nor denied reports of any Americans in peshmerga custody, nor have they commented on whether or not Muhammad Jamal Amin, specifically, has been captured.
Officials within the U.S. intelligence community believe that "about a dozen" Americans are known to gone to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS, according to CBS News.
However, that number appears to fluctuate.
According to a July, 2015, report in the Hill, FBI Director James Comey testified at the time that there were closer to 200 Americans who were known, or suspected, to have gone to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.
"We estimate upwards of 200 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to participate in the conflict. These threats remain among the highest priorities for the FBI and the intelligence community as a whole."Comey feared that some of those ISIS fighters, having trained and served with the terrorist organization, would try to return to the United States in order to carry out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
Similarly, Comey raised concerns about Americans inspired by ISIS staying at home but carrying out terrorist attacks in the name of ISIS. One such attack appeared to have been planned and scuttled. Prior to Comey's testimony, the FBI arrested several individuals, allegedly radicalized by ISIS, who were planning to behead the organizer of a "draw Mohammed" event.
In fact, one of ISIS' strong points is the jihadist organization's ability to recruit. With a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, ISIS reaches out to would-be terrorists -- usually young, disaffected men from immigrant minority communities -- and encourages them to join the cause of jihad.
It's not just men that ISIS recruits, however. According to a November, 2015, Washington Post report, young American women -- as well as young European women -- have been attempting to join ISIS, either to fight alongside them or to offer themselves up as brides to the jihadists. The report estimates that one in seven Westerners who attempted to join ISIS are women.
Some 20,000 foreign fighters are believed to have fled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. Some 3,400 of them are from Western nations, such European nations or the United States and Canada.
[Photo by AP Photo/File]