A Saudi-born Canadian citizen who U.S. prosecutors called one of the “most prolific propagandists” for ISIS has been sentenced Friday to a life of imprisonment.
In materials filed in court ahead of his sentencing hearing, prosecutors said Mohammed Khalifa was a “formidable figure within ISIS.”
In a release, the U.S. Department of Justice said Khalifa executed two Syrian soldiers and provided the narration and translation for around 15 videos created and distributed by ISIS.
“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,” the department said.
A 39-year-old IT worker who grew up in Toronto, Khalifa left Canada in 2013 for Syria, where he underwent training and used his English-language skills to narrate ISIS execution videos.
In the 2014 video, “Flames of War,” he was shown making Syrians dig their own graves and shooting a kneeling man in the back of the head. He did the same in a 2017 video, “Flames of War II.”
On Jan 13, 2019, he was firing at U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria when his AK-47 jammed, leading to his capture.
Although the RCMP was investigating Khalifa at the time, the United States took him into custody and flew him to Washington, D.C., to face charges.
He pleaded guilty on Dec. 10.
During the time Khalifa was a prominent member of ISIS, the U.S. department said the terrorist organization was conducting a brutal hostage-taking and ransom demand campaign involving journalists and humanitarian aid workers who came to Syria from across the globe.
Between August 19, 2014, and February 6, 2015, ISIS killed eight American, British and Japanese citizens in Syria as part of the hostage scheme.
— With files from Stewart Bell