The Washington Post
For Years, The Voice Behind ISIS Propaganda Was A Mystery. Now A Canadian Faces Criminal Charges.
By Rachel Weiner
A Canadian who U.S. prosecutors allege is behind influential English-language propaganda videos for the Islamic State has been brought to Virginia to be prosecuted.
Mohammed Khalifa, 38, was captured by Kurdish forces in Syria in 2019. At that point, according to prosecutors, he had been with the Islamic State for six years. He started as a fighter, according to court documents, before becoming involved in the translation and dissemination of English-language propaganda.
He ultimately led ISIS’s English-language media arm, prosecutors allege, whose output included videos, audio statements and an online magazine. Prosecutors say Khalifa narrated over a dozen ISIS recruitment videos, including two of the group’s most influential efforts at luring Westerners: “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun,” in 2014, and “Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour,” in 2017.
In the videos, according to court records, Khalifa encouraged supporters to try to join the Islamic State abroad or, if they could not, to launch attacks in their home countries. One video included a voice recording of the man who declared his allegiance to ISIS before committing a massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in 2016.
Others showed brutal executions, including of Syrian prisoners who were forced to dig their own graves and a Jordanian pilot being burned alive.