WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice says a Saudi-born Canadian citizen was sentenced to life in prison Friday for conspiring to provide support resulting in death to the terrorist organization ISIS.
The Department of Justice statement says Mohammed Khalifa, 39, pleaded guilty last December in District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to a charge of conspiring to provide material or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death.
The statement says Khalifa was a lead Islamic State propaganda official who served as the English-speaking narrator on more than a dozen violent ISIS videos.
It says he played a key role in the group’s successful efforts to recruit tens of thousands of foreign fighters to defend its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
It also says Khalifa, who was captured in Syria in 2019, served as an ISIS fighter and executed two Syrian soldiers on behalf of the terrorist organization.
The statement says Khalifa narrated two of the most violent ISIS videos: “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun” and “Flames of War II: Until The Final Hour,” both depicting executions of prisoners and terrorist attacks on the U.S.
Global Affairs Canada was not immediately available to comment on the sentencing.
“During the time Khalifa was a prominent member of ISIS, 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,” says the U.S. Department of Justice statement.
“Between Aug. 19, 2014 and Feb. 6, 2015, ISIS killed eight American, British and Japanese citizens in Syria as part of the hostage scheme.”
Khalifa’s defence attorneys had sought a term of just 20 years at Friday’s sentencing hearing, arguing that he was less culpable than two British-born Islamic State members who personally beat and tortured Western hostages.
They also argued it’s wrong for the U.S. to impose such a severe sentence against a Canadian who was not convicted of directly killing or harming any Americans and could have just as easily been extradited to Canada.