A man originally from Northern Virginia who joined the Islamic State but fled before being captured by Kurdish fighters in Iraq has returned to the United States. On Wednesday evening Mohamed Khweis arrived back in the U.S. to face trial and was charged in federal district court in Alexandria with “providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists,” as the Washington Post shares.
The former member of ISIS was set to appear in court Thursday afternoon. The man shared, as an 11-page affidavit reads, that he moved from various Islamic State safehouses and admitted during an interview that he told another member of the group that he wanted to be a suicide bomber when he believed he was being tested about his loyalty to the state.
— Lisa Daftari (@LisaDaftari) March 17, 2016
FBI Special Agent Victoria Martinez, who wrote the affidavit based on the words of the 26-year-old, states that Khweis was “inspired to join ISIL because he saw that they had established an Islamic caliphate and were in the process of expanding it.”
“Mohamed Khweis, a non-descript Virginian who sporadically attended mosque, briefly joined the Islamic State… https://t.co/7UbTEf518h
— Refounders (@RefoundersUSA) June 9, 2016
No lawyer has been listed for Khweis as of yet in the court records, and his father has refrained from giving any comment or interview when requested by the Post. Before the young man had left the United States to join ISIS, he was unknown to FBI members. He was simply the son of a limo driver and cosmetologist. He described his time overseas in a video that has been since released by Kurdish television, saying he decided being a member of the state wasn’t to his liking, sharing, “I found it very, very hard to live there.”
The publication shares about Khweis’ background and upbringing, as well as his education prior to his time spent overseas.
“Khweis, of Alexandria, graduated from Fairfax County’s Edison High School in 2007. He took classes at Northern Virginia Community College from 2009 to 2014, eventually earning an associate’s degree in administration of justice, a college spokeswoman said. Several professors at the college said they did not know or remember him. Khweis also worked as a teller at Sandy Spring Bank in Fairfax from 2009 to 2011, a bank spokeswoman said.”
Although unknown to the FBI prior to his time spent overseas, Khweis was charged with more than a dozen traffic and other minor offenses, including trespassing and DWI between 2007 and 2012. The ISIS member had to pay hundreds of dollars in fines for other reasons, while in the case of the trespassing offense, Khweis was made to complete 50 hours of community service at an adult learning center, as the publication shares.
Martinez indicated in the affidavit that Khweis spoke with the FBI willingly and waived his Miranda rights. He also relayed to the agents that the interview he gave on Kurdish TV was done freely.
The Post shares the statistics involving individuals who have joined the Islamic State from the United States.
“According to a recent congressional report, more than 250 Americans have tried or succeeded in getting to Syria and Iraq to fight with militant groups — although that figure includes even those who never left the United States. American officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, estimated recently that two dozen have been killed in Syria and that another two dozen are still fighting there.”
In regard to the behavior and actions of members of the state, as well as the living situation in Syria, Martinez reported Khweis’ words on the subject in the affidavit.
“Martinez wrote that Khweis acknowledged he knew the Islamic State ‘used violence in its expansion of the caliphate,’ but also asserted that the group ‘engaged in peaceful and humanitarian efforts. My message to the American people is: The life in Mosul, it’s really, really bad,’ he said.
As NBC News shares, Mohamed Khweis could face 20 years behind bars for his role as a member of ISIS.
[Photo by Rwa Faisal/AP Images]