A still image taken from an Islamic State (ISIS) video .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The fluent English-speaker who narrated the most notorious Islamic State video was captured by an American-supported militia in Syria last month, according to a report in The New York Times on Sunday. The video filmed captive Syrian soldiers digging their graves before being shot in their heads.
Khalifa claimed he is the voice behind countless ISIS videos and broadcasts, in an interview from his jail cell in Syria with The New York Times. His role in spreading ISIS propaganda and recruiting English speakers to its cause was significant, terrorism experts told The New York Times.
Khalifa, 35, immigrated from Saudi Arabia to Toronto as a child, where he learned to speak English fluently. Following college and a short stint working in computer systems technology, he flew to war-torn Syria after watching its skirmishes on YouTube.
"No, I don’t regret it,” Khalifa told The New York Times in an interview from his prison cell in Syria. “I was asked the same thing by my interrogators, and I told them the same thing.”
Khalifa said that he was an employee of the Islamic State’s Ministry of Media, which filmed the beheading of James Foley, an American journalist.
Khalifa asserted to The New York Times that he did not actively participate in any of the films he narrated, which featured executions, drownings (captured with underwater cameras) and beheading.
“He is a symbol — the voice coming out of ISIS, speaking to the English-speaking world, for the better part of the last four to five years,” Amarnath Amarasingam, a prominent radicalization researcher in Toronto told The New York Times.
His five-year narration career is now over as he sits among of hundreds of fellow ISIS fighters in Syrian prisons.
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