A 26-year-old Virginia man had only been in the ranks of ISIS for a few weeks before he apparently decided he’d had enough of life in the caliphate and wanted to return home.
Mohamad Jamal Khweis, who was apprehended on Monday by Kurdish Peshmerga forces, has claimed that he traveled to Iraq in late January to fight with ISIS and later fled, according to a statement released by the Kurdistan Region Security Council on Wednesday. Khweis was reportedly carrying three mobile phones and Turkish currency. The Kurdish authorities said he was trying to make his way back to the U.S. when he was apprehended near the town of Sinjar while leaving the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.
Khweis’ apparent defection from ISIS comes as U.S. officials are seeing mounting anecdotal evidence of disillusioned fighters leaving the terror group’s ranks, a U.S. intelligence official who is not authorized to speak publicly told The Daily Beast.
State Department spokesman John Kirby addressed the rising number of defections in comments earlier this week, noting, “Fighters are becoming…certainly disenchanted with the effort that they signed up for.”
The mystery surrounding Khweis’ journey into the heartland of ISIS was heightened with the revelation that he’d been traveling with an unidentified Iraqi woman, who accompanied him as he traveled through Turkey and into Syria in December 2015, according to Kurdish authorities.