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Canadian man charged for aiding ISIS, serving as 'voice behind the violence'

Canadian man charged for aiding ISIS, serving as 'voice behind the violence'
Iraqi soldiers show a flag that they seized from ISIS near the city of Fallujah, Iraq. File Photo by Karrar Hazem /UPI | License Photo

Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors unsealed charges Saturday against a man accused of fighting for ISIS and playing a key role in the terrorist group's recruitment efforts.

Mohammed Khalifa, 38, a Saudi-born Canadian citizen, was charged with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization resulting in death, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in the the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a Department of Justice statement said. If convicted, he could face sentencing of up to life in prison.

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Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-allied group involved in the country's ongoing civil war, captured Khalifa overseas in January 2019 and recently handed him over to the FBI.

He allegedly served in prominent roles within ISIS starting in 2013 continuing until his 2019 capture. Those roles included serving as an ISIS fighter and within ISIS Media Bureau as the English-speaking narrator of multiple violent recruitment videos, the Justice Department statement said.

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The series of recruitment videos, allegedly narrated by Khalifa, urges recruits who cannot leave their home countries to join ISIS to conduct attacks at home. The video includes footage of ISIS attacks in Europe including Paris, Brussels, as well as the French city of Nice. One of the videos includes a voice recording of Omar Mateen, the Pulse Nightclub shooter, declaring his allegiance to ISIS during the June 12, 2016 terrorist attack in Orlando, Fla.

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The complaint also alleged that Khalifa assisted in the translation and narration of approximately 15 ISIS videos, with "Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun," released in 2014 and "Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour," released in 2017. The two videos are considered among the group's most influential propaganda. These two videos allegedly promoted violence committed against U.S. citizens and those from allied countries.

The ISIS Media Bureau also released images depicting the murders of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, U.S. journalists taken hostage, while Khalifa was working with the group, an FBI affidavit states. Other productions showed the murders of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig and two Japanese citizens.

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"As alleged, Mohammed Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence," Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parek said in the statement. "Through his alleged leading role in translating, narrating, and advancing ISIS' online propaganda, Khalifa promoted the terrorist group, furthered its worldwide recruitment efforts, and expanded the reach of videos that glorified the horrific murders and indiscriminate cruelty of ISIS."

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