A 24-year-old Syrian immigrant in the US admitted to having ties to the Islamic State (Isis) and pleaded guilty on 29 October to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati will serve eight years in prison as part of a plea bargain with federal prosecutors in San Diego, California.
According to the criminal complaint, Saeed lied to agents from the FBI, Customs and Border Protection and the State Department about his involvement in terrorist fighting in Syria or a sharia court and whether he knew any IS fighters. The Los Angeles Times reported US authorities questioned him in Ankara before he returned to San Diego in March.
He later admitted he traveled from San Diego to Turkey and on to Syria in 2012, when he met with IS and al Nusra militants. As part of his plea bargain, Saeed admitted to knowing a member of the terrorist organisation and that he fought against the Syrian regime for four months while in Syria. Saeed also reportedly mentioned on Facebook that his father and perhaps his brother also fought.
Saeed reportedly told associates and in postings on Facebook that he was a participant of a sharia court and that he believes in the IS cause, court documents revealed. "I am currently the media person for the Shari'ah Authority," he allegedly told an associate, the Times reported. There are also photos that show Saeed handling weapons.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Saeed also boasted about helping solve issues between IS and al Nusra. "If there is a problem in the area, like if they will do anything bad to ... one of the persons in the area, and we know he is a good person, we try and go explain ... that there's no problem with that person. Like I kind of fix problems to whoever have problems" with IS, he allegedly wrote.
According to the Times, Saeed arrived in the US in 2001 and became a US citizen in 2008. Court documents revealed he has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and San Diego. He was arrested in the San Diego neighbourhood of Rancho Bernardo in April without incident and has remained in federal custody since then.