BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An American who flew out of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport to go fight with ISIS is now back on U.S. soil and facing federal terror-related charges.
Ava-joye Burnett has more on why the suspect’s trip into ISIS territory wasn’t what he expected.
The 26-year-old American told investigators once he was in, he didn’t like how ISIS did things, so he made a run for it.
Mohamad Khweis surrendered to Kurdish forces in March. A risky escape from ISIS’ clutch, authorities say he willingly left his home in Virginia to fight with the terror group. Once there, Kwheis said he had made a mistake.
“I didn’t really support their ideology. And at that point, that’s when I decided I needed to escape,” he said.
Khweis was in a Virginia courtroom Thursday, charged with allegedly providing material support to terrorists and agreeing to be a suicide bomber. His father had few words outside court.
“Good to see him today. That’s it,” his father said.
When asked if his client was willing to be a suicide bomber for ISIS, attorney John Zwerling said: “I have no reason to think he wanted to end his life for any particular reason.”
Khweis told the FBI that he flew out of BWI last December into Turkey, and then eventually made his way over the border into Syria.
Just this week, the director of the FBI said ISIS is the main threat facing America because they’re aggressively trying to recruit fighters to join them overseas and they want radicals to attack the mainland.
“That’s not a path to go down. There will be severe consequences for people who go down that path, and I hope very much to work ourselves out of that work,” said FBI Director James Comey.
Terrorism experts say Khweis’ unexpected return into American hands could be a treasure trove of information.
“He certainly has interesting information about the recruiting process, the training process, the other recruits that were there,” said Peter Bergen, national security analyst.
If convicted, Khweis could get up to 20 years in prison.
Khweis’ attorney would not say if he is cooperating with prosecutors or U.S. intelligence.