US: Canadian IS narrator sentenced to life in prison

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A Canadian man was sentenced to life in prison by a US court on Friday for conspiracy to provide material support to the so-called “Islamic State” (IS), resulting in the death of hostages.

Born in Saudi Arabia, 39-year-old Mohammed Khalifa is said to be a key player in the terrorist group’s propaganda, and he shared several violent videos. He pleaded guilty in December 2021.

According to the Justice Department (DOJ) indictment, he grew up in Toronto and left Canada in 2013 to join IS in Syria. He soon got an important role in the propaganda cell, mainly because of his command of English and Arabic.

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What was Khalifa doing in IS?

Notably, the propaganda cell was behind the production of videos of foreign hostages being executed, including US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were both beheaded in 2014.

Khalifa also provided the English voice-over for two videos from 2014 and 2017, in which he executes Syrian soldiers. The DOJ called these videos “exceptionally violent.”

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He is also the alleged narrator of recruitment videos showing IS attacks in France and Belgium, urging others to participate in similar acts of violence.

When was he captured?

Khalifa was captured in January 2019 by Kurdish-dominated Syrian forces allied with the US.

He did an interview with Canada’s TBEN while in prison in Syria, where he showed no remorse for his actions. He said he wanted to return to Canada with his wife and three children, but on the condition that he would not be tried there.

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He was transferred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in October last year before pleading guilty.

Khalifa’s life sentence was ordered by US District Judge TS Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia.

tg/wd (TBEN, Reuters)

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