Islamic State fighter from US in custody in Iraq

  • Reuters, Irbil, Iraq
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2016 01:57 IST
This image made from video posted on Twitter by a Kurdish fighter shows a man that the Kurdish military says is an American member of the Islamic State group shortly after he turned himself in to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, Monday, March 14, 2016. (AP)

An American fighting for Islamic State was taken into custody in northern Iraq after he left territory controlled by the militant group, according to two Kurdish officers, one of whom arrested him.

Both said it appeared the man was intending to escape both Islamic State and Kurdish forces but handed himself in after peshmerga fighters opened fire on him near the frontline in the village of Golat.

Captain Daham Khalaf said they had spotted the fighter hiding in long grass around dawn and waited until the sun rose before surrounding him: “He shouted ‘I am a foreigner’,” Khalaf said, describing him as bearded and dressed in black.

The fighter did not have a passport but was carrying an American driving licence and spoke English and broken Arabic, according to General Hashim Sitei who spoke to him.

A copy of what was said to be the licence, seen by Reuters, was in the name of Khweis Mohammed Jamal.

“He said the situation with ISIS is not good,” Sitei said, noting that the fighter appeared tired.

“We gave him food and treated him with respect and handed him over to military intelligence,” he said.

The fighter was unarmed but carrying three mobile phones and said his father was Palestinian and his mother from the Mosul area in Iraq, both officers said. Khalaf said he also had a bank card and cash in Iraqi, Turkish and US currencies.

“He said: ‘No one take my photo’, but we did,” Khalaf said.

The State Department said it was aware of the reports that a US citizen said to have been fighting for Islamic State was captured by Kurdish peshmerga forces in northern Iraq.

“We are in touch with Iraqi and Kurdish authorities to determine the veracity of these reports,” a State Department official in Washington said on the customary condition of anonymity.

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