STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

American being held as ISIS fighter sought media access

An American citizen being held by the United States in Iraq for allegedly fighting for ISIS said he traveled to Syria...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 6:47 AM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 6:47 AM

An American citizen being held by the United States in Iraq for allegedly fighting for ISIS said he traveled to Syria to work as a journalist and chronicle what life was like under the terror group, according to newly released court documents.

The unnamed American, who is also a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was captured in Syria last September by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an American-backed militia, and handed over to US authorities in Iraq. He has challenged the legality of his detention and is also contesting the government's position that it may also lawfully transfer him to a third country.

The individual is currently being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to the documents released Wednesday, an unnamed FBI agent writes that search warrants issued for an email account used by the prisoner show he communicated with an unnamed press accreditation agency, and later indicated in an email that he "planned to cover various events and stories in a number of areas/countries in the Middle East," and that he had "gathered a great deal of information living in refugee tents on the Turkish-Syrian border" and requested a link to upload his written articles.

However, the declaration from the FBI official questioned whether the individual had a real desire to report stories from the region.

"To date, FBI investigation has not revealed any instances where" the individual "published any news stories, blogs or any written accounts of any sort, whether they be related to events in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world."

Through interviews with past acquaintances of the individual, as well as interviews with the prisoner himself, the filings reveal he obtained a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and he spent some time Louisiana during the mid-2000's where he had a penchant for drinking and gambling but then embraced his Muslim faith, became married and had a child a few years ago.

In his interview with US authorities, the documents say the individual claimed he was kidnapped by ISIS fighters three days after his arrival in Syria after he paid an individual to smuggle him into Syria from a border city in Turkey under the auspices of being a freelance writer.

During his interviews, he spoke of frequently of being moved around various parts of Syria, as well as describing a meeting with ISIS officials who told him of a plan to "use a type of machine, similar to a satellite dish, to transmit microwaves that could bring down an airplane."

The documents also reveal that when he was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces in an area near Deir Ezzor, Syria, he was carrying over $4,000 in US cash, two thumb drives, clothes, hats, a scuba snorkel and mask, as well as a Koran, and identified himself as being a member of ISIS, and "wanted to turn himself in and to speak to the Americans."

According to the filing, the FBI was able to search the prisoner's thumb drives and found "numerous files on how to make specific types of improvised explosive devices, and bombs" as well as "thousands" of files depicting "military style handbooks with information on weaponry, warfare combat, building trenches."

An FBI search of the individual's Twitter account found tweets purportedly sympathetic to ISIS and his online search history showed his support for ISIS and suggested "he was planning to join the terrorist organization" the documents said.

The ACLU, who says the individual wishes to remain anonymous out of concern for the safety of his family, has been able to communicate with their client through secure video conferencing facilities provided by the government.

"The Trump administration is detaining this US citizen in violation of his constitutional rights," ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz told CNN in a written statement in response to the latest documents. "He should either be charged or freed. Americans have the right to a trial in court to defend themselves from government accusations. It would be grossly unfair to force this American to refute these factual allegations in detail now in a lengthy process that lacks core fair-trial protections when the Trump administration has no legal authority to detain him in the first place."

A court filing from the ACLU last week further stated the individual "sought to understand firsthand and report about the conflict in Syria; was kidnapped and imprisoned by ISIS; and tried numerous times to escape - and not even the government alleges that he ever took up arms against the United States or anyone else."

Last month, US District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered the US government to give 72 hours' notice before it attempted to transfer the individual out of its custody to a third country in order to allow his attorneys an opportunity to challenge such a move.

The Justice Department has appealed that ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit which will hear the case in April.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371840

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin50231667
Cuyahoga36047741
Hamilton29931372
Montgomery20065228
Butler14769146
Lucas14317414
Summit13388316
Stark8792197
Warren819175
Mahoning7276299
Lake682666
Lorain643499
Clermont577248
Delaware556436
Licking549276
Fairfield538464
Trumbull5305147
Greene522364
Clark511464
Allen465485
Marion465251
Wood4491107
Medina447756
Miami425867
Pickaway399348
Columbiana347297
Portage344872
Tuscarawas328658
Wayne318793
Richland316638
Mercer289945
Hancock241337
Ross240759
Muskingum240210
Auglaize231031
Putnam224749
Erie224266
Darke223559
Ashtabula223253
Geauga203351
Scioto195915
Union19118
Shelby190615
Lawrence189438
Athens18864
Seneca180018
Belmont164929
Madison158918
Sandusky154229
Preble152621
Huron152318
Defiance139522
Holmes139139
Logan127816
Knox126318
Fulton124525
Washington121927
Crawford121516
Ottawa121130
Clinton106714
Williams10579
Ashland105222
Highland101317
Jefferson10124
Henry100023
Brown9925
Champaign9475
Jackson93112
Hardin91019
Fayette90317
Van Wert8976
Morrow8882
Guernsey83914
Coshocton82613
Perry78712
Adams78313
Pike7451
Gallia73513
Wyandot71216
Paulding64611
Hocking62616
Noble60223
Carroll45710
Meigs39012
Monroe31821
Morgan2575
Vinton2195
Harrison2023
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 52°
Angola
48° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 45°
Huntington
Overcast
53° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 53°
Decatur
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 52°
Van Wert
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 52°
Rain Continues Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events