The U.S. repatriated four Americans charged with supporting ISIS in September, the last of a group of American ISIS supporters who were being held by U.S. allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The move brings the total number of U.S. citizens charged with terror-related offenses for their support of ISIS and repatriated from Iraq and Syria to the U.S. to 10, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
American authorities lauded their success in regaining custody of the supporters as a warning to those who may attempt to travel and join ISIS.
“The United States continues to lead by example by working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to repatriate American citizens accused of supporting ISIS,” said Amb. Nathan Sales, State Department coordinator for counterterrorism. “We call on other nations, particularly in Western Europe, to take responsibility for their citizens.”
The recently repatriated men include Emraan Ali and his son, Jihad Ali, who traveled with their family to Syria in March 2015 to join ISIS, according to the DOJ. The two surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a largely Kurdish militia, in March 2019, during the last sustained ISIS battles to maintain territory in Syria.
The other men, Abdelhamid Al-Madioum and Lirim Sylejmani also allegedly joined ISIS in 2015 and were captured in 2019. Sylejmani, a Kosovo-born naturalized citizen, has previously spoken publicly about his time with the Islamic State group while in SDF custody.
The U.S. has regained custody of six other citizens who left the country to support and fight for ISIS since 2017. All 10 repatriated citizens faced charges of conspiring to, attempting to or providing material support for ISIS or concealing terrorism financing. One has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, the rest of the cases are still underway.
The repatriations are part of a broader government effort to prevent Americans from leaving the country to fight for ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and to investigate and charge those two willingly do so, a key piece of the U.S. terrorism prevention strategy. U.S. authorities have supported other countries in efforts to do the same, including sharing evidence.