US gives Canadian man life in prison for aiding Islamic State, Justice Dept says

Mohammed Khalifa, 39, who grew up in Toronto and left Canada in 2013 for Syria.

Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an air strike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria  (photo credit: ERIC DE CASTRO/ REUTERS)
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an air strike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria
(photo credit: ERIC DE CASTRO/ REUTERS)

A US judge on Friday sentenced a Saudi-born Canadian man to life in prison after he pleaded guilty in December to aiding Islamic State by working with propagandists who publicized the group's beheading of hostages including American journalist James Foley.

Mohammed Khalifa, 39, who grew up in Toronto and left Canada in 2013 for Syria, killed two Syrian soldiers on the group's behalf before his capture by US-backed Kurdish forces in 2019, the US Department of Justice said in a statement on his sentence.

He was transferred to Federal Bureau of Investigation custody in October last year and pleaded guilty on December 10 to providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death, the department said.

His life sentence was ordered by Senior US District Judge T. S. Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia, where his court proceedings took place.

Global Notoriety

Islamic State gained global notoriety after releasing videos in 2014 of the beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and of British aid workers Alan Henning and David Haines.

 A member of Iraqi security forces celebrates as he holds a flag of Islamic State militants on the top of a destroyed building from clashes in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq July 10, 2017.  (credit: REUTERS/THAIER AL-SUDANI) A member of Iraqi security forces celebrates as he holds a flag of Islamic State militants on the top of a destroyed building from clashes in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq July 10, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/THAIER AL-SUDANI)

Khalifa worked in the unit that publicized the videos, US prosecutors said.