A U.S. judge has sentenced a Canadian citizen to life imprisonment for aiding the Islamic State terrorist group and narrating its propaganda videos, including one that showed the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
Senior U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced the 39-year-old Saudi-born convict, Mohammed Khalifa, to life imprisonment on Friday, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
Khalifa, aka Abu Ridwan Al-Kanadi and Abu Muthanna Al-Muhajir, worked with ISIS from 2013 to January 2019, when the Syrian Democratic Forces captured him during its firefight with the terrorist group.
He served as a fighter, executed two Syrian soldiers on behalf of IS, and served as a lead translator in ISIS’ propaganda production and the English-speaking narrator on multiple violent IS videos.
Khalifa provided the narration and translation for about 15 videos created and distributed by ISIS during its brutal hostage-taking and ransom demand campaign, the Justice Department said.
The productions include two of the most influential and exceptionally violent ISIS propaganda videos: “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun,” distributed on Sept. 19, 2014, and “Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour,” distributed on Nov. 29, 2017.
“The videos depict glamorized portrayals of ISIS and its fighters as well as scenes of violence, including depictions of unarmed prisoners being executed, footage of ISIS attacks and fighting and depictions of ISIS attacks in the United States,” according to the Justice Department.
After his capture, Khalifa was transferred to the custody of the FBI last year and brought to the Eastern District of Virginia, where he had his initial appearance on Oct. 4, 2021.
Initially, he told a newspaper he had been a low-level fighter and “just the voice” of ISIS, insisting that he had played no role in filming or beheadings, according to BBC.
On Dec. 10, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS, resulting in death.
Narrating how he was captured, the Justice Department said: “In January 2019, Khalifa engaged in fighting on behalf of ISIS and attacked an SDF position in Abu Badran, Syria. Khalifa, alone and armed with three grenades and an AK-47, threw a grenade on the roof of a house where SDF soldiers were standing. The grenade detonated and Khalifa ran into the house and attempted to go to the roof, but an SDF soldier was firing from the stairs. Khalifa began firing at the SDF soldier and attempted to use all three of his grenades during the attack. Khalifa fired most of his ammunition during the assault before his AK-47 jammed. Khalifa surrendered to the SDF on or about Jan. 13, 2019.”