Photo illustration by Kenna Milaski/Coffee or Die Magazine.
The US has officially repatriated all 27 Americans that were in the custody of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) due to “offenses relating to their support for ISIS,” according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.
“Preventing terrorism remains the FBI’s top priority. Through the hard work and dedication of countless men and women across the FBI and the U.S. government, nearly a dozen citizens have been repatriated from Iraq and Syria over the past several years to face the American justice system,” said John Brown, FBI executive assistant director for national security, in the press release. “This announcement should serve as a warning to those who travel, or attempt to travel, to join and fight with ISIS. We remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent terrorism as well as hold terrorists, and those who provide support to terrorist organizations, accountable for their actions.”
The US is urging other countries to repatriate their own countrymen and women in SDF custody to keep any would-be terrorists off the battlefield.
The recent transfer of the two remaining SDF-detained Americans, Emraan Ali and Jihad Ali, marks the last of the known American citizen terrorists in SDF’s custody. The DOJ will prosecute the repatriated Americans through the US court system for their alleged crimes and apply additional charges where appropriate.
Emraan, the father of Jihad, traveled with his family to Syria to join ISIS in March 2015. Both Emraan and Jihad received military and religious training and functioned as fighters for ISIS for four years. In March 2019, they surrendered to the SDF near Baghuz, Syria, during the last battles to eradicate ISIS from Syria.
Both father and son made their initial appearance in the Southern District of Florida on Wednesday. Emraan is charged with “providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS.” Jihad Ali is charged with “conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS.”
Two other recently repatriated ISIS supporters, Abdelhamid al-Madioum and Lirim Sylejmani, appeared before the court on Sept. 16, 2020. Al-Madioum made his first appearance in the District of Minnesota court system and is charged with “providing material support to ISIS.” Sylejmani, who was arraigned in the District of Columbia, is charged with “conspiring to provide, providing, and attempting to provide material support to ISIS, and receiving training from ISIS.”
Both al-Madioum and Sylejmani were captured by the SDF in 2019. The DOJ did not respond to requests for further information at the time of publication.
“This was our moral responsibility to the American people and to the people of the countries to which these terrorists traveled,” said John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, in the press release.
The US continues to investigate and attempt to prevent any more Americans from joining the ranks of ISIS and to find any remaining American accessories to terrorism who may remain at large.
Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.
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