A US-born ISIS terrorist, claiming to be a Palestinian, has surrendered to Kurdish forces in Iraq. His father claims ignorance.
Mohammed Jamal Amin, a 26-year-old terrorist fighting with the Islamic State (ISIS), surrendered to Iraqi Kurdish forces in northern Iraq on Monday and when asked, said he is a Palestinian from the United States.
His driving license, posted on social media, had Alexandria, Virginia, as his home address and though US authorities have yet to confirm whether he is an American citizen, the incident marked a rare voluntary surrender in Iraq of a terrorist fighting with ISIS.
The ISIS terrorist had been “lurking near the Peshmerga [Kurdish armed forces] lines” since late Sunday night, according to Maj. Gen. Feisal Helkani of the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces who play a key role — along with the Iraqi military and Shiite militia forces — in battling ISIS.
Helkani said his troops first tried to shoot the man, assuming he was a would-be suicide bomber.
“Then in the morning, he walked across and gave himself up,” Helkani said, adding the man said he is a Palestinian-American who was fighting with ISIS in Iraq.
The surrender took place on the front lines near the town of Sinjar, which was retaken by Iraqi forces from ISIS late last year.
Helkani said Amin was carrying with him a large amount of cash, three cell phones and three forms of identification, including a US driving license. He is currently being held by the Peshmerga troops for interrogation, Helkani added.
The Iraqi Kurdish general did not provide further details or a hometown for the man, but a photograph of an American driving license said to belong to the ISIS terrorist was posted on social media, identifying him as Mohamad Jamal Khweis.
The discrepancy between the fighter’s family name on the license and the one provided by the Kurdish general could not immediately be reconciled. His first name was also spelled differently.
In grainy cell phone footage, also posted on social media shortly after the surrender, the man is seen on a hillside, standing with his hands behind his back, head slightly bowed. He is surrounded by Iraqi Kurdish troops and responds to an officer’s questions. He says he is from the United States and that he is Palestinian.
Reports indicate that Amin was in fact born in the US. His mother is Iraqi born, while his father attains a Palestinian identity.
In response to the interrogator’s question, he says he was in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which has been under ISIS control since the jihadi group blitzed across Iraq to capture much of the country’s north and west in the summer of 2014.
In the Kingstowne neighborhood of Fairfax County, listed as Khweis’ home on the driver’s license, a man who said he is Khweis’ father said he was leaving to meet with authorities to find out what they knew. He became angry when a reporter tried to ask him about his son and suggested it was unfair to ask him to account for his grown son.
“He’s 26. Almost 27. He’s a grown man, just like you,” he told a reporter.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said he could not verify that the individual is an American or that he defected from ISIS.
“We are aware of the reports, aware that a US citizen allegedly fighting for ISIL has been captured by Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq,” he said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group. “We’re in touch with Iraqi and Kurdish authorities to determine the veracity of these reports. I don’t have any further information to share at this time.”
The United Nations estimated that around 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries are actively working with the Islamic State, al-Qaida or other Muslim terrorist groups. An earlier estimate by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, a think tank at King’s College London, said ISIS fighters include 3,300 Western Europeans and 100 or so Americans.
By: AP[stop_isis boxed form]