A Saudi-born Canadian citizen who joined the Islamic State and eventually became known as “the English voice of ISIS” was sentenced to life in prison Friday, after he admitted to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death.
Mohammed Khalifa, 39, grew up in Toronto and became radicalized online before traveling to Syria in the spring of 2013.
In a 2019 interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, the married father of three said that had a “normal life back in Canada and was doing very well for myself” before he decided to leave everything behind and travel to Syria to fight for ISIS.
He was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces in January 2019. During this time he served in different roles within ISIS, U.S. prosecutors said.
Khalifa became a prominent member of the group, providing the translation and English-language narration for approximately 15 propaganda videos created and distributed by ISIS.
He also executed two Syrian soldiers on behalf of the group.
Prosecutors say Khalifa narrated two of the most “influential and exceptionally violent ISIS propaganda videos,” distributed in September 2014 and November 2017. They feature unarmed prisoners being executed, in “glamorized portrayals of ISIS and its fighters.”
The “Flames of War” videos include scenes of Khalifa executing a different Syrian soldier in each of the two videos.
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At the end of both videos, a masked Khalifa speaks to the camera before executing a kneeling Syrian soldier while other masked ISIS members shoot the prisoners kneeling in front of them.
In December he pleaded guilty to aiding a terrorist organization.
His defense attorneys had sought a term of just 20 years, arguing that he was less culpable than two British-born Islamic State members, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee, who personally beat and tortured hostages.
They also said that Khalifa killed two Syrian soldiers but didn’t kill any Americans.
Prosecutors sought a life sentence, saying that he played a vital role in recruiting tens of thousands of foreign fighters to join ISIS.
His life sentence was ordered by U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia.
With News Wire Services