One of the biggest news stories this week was the capture of one of the leaders from the November Paris attacks. The terrorist was taken in Belgium after months on the run. However, Virginia had a big capture of its own. Mahmoud Amin was apprehended by Kurdish officials for trying to join ISIS. Amin had told his family he was on his way to vacation in Greece last week when he was arrested. Frighteningly, the U.S. authorities had no clue that he had left and was intertwined with ISIS either.
A simple grammatical confusion lead to Mahmoud’s capture. He mistook the arabic words of frontline and border, sending him to the wrong place. The breaking news came as a shock to his family. When asked to identify Mahmoud, they could not believe the accusations were true. Amin’s family told reporters that Amin never mentioned ISIS, and he did not know know how to speak or read Arabic. His family has not handled the scandal well, reportedly lashing out at the media and being extremely hurt by their family member’s actions.
It is believed Amin had been trying to align himself with ISIS in Syria for two months prior to his arrest. He had been in contact with people from the Middle East since November. Mahmoud is currently being held by Kurdish authorities. The most interesting part of this story is, could it be considered a capture? News outlets have revealed Amin willingly turned himself over to authorities.
When Kurdish soldiers saw the militant approaching their gates, they sounded alarms and released a special ops team under the assumption he was a suicide bomber. When confronted, he told the guards in perfect English that he wanted to surrender himself. This story has similarities to one published several weeks ago of a young girl who fled to Syria to be a bride of ISIS and later begged Kurdish fighters to help her escape back home.
If the story Mahmoud Amin has submitted is true, he will be the first American to officially surrender himself to authorities. When he turned himself in, on his person was a Virginia driver’s license, mixed currencies, and several cell phones, but no weapons.
Among Americans who flee to fight alongside ISIS, ninety-eight percent are male, under thirty, and convert to Islam. Amins court date is set for mid-July of this year. Currently, Amin is facing 20 years in prison. Even though the Virginia native is considering his move a “bad decision” he still attempted to join an extremist group and that does not sit well with many.
One positive aspect however, is Amin can be used as a treasure trove of information. He can fill the government in on how he found out about ISIS, what attracted him, who his resources were, and who helped him once he landed in Syria. During Amin’s first public appearance, he claimed love is what drove him to fly to Syria. He also informed the press that once he realized he did not agree with what was being taught to him by the extremist group, he understood it was time for him to leave.