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Repatriated American IS fighter pleads guilty to terror charge

By AFP | September 3rd 2020 at 10:00:00 GMT +0300

An American who fought with the Islamic State group for five years before being captured and sent home pleaded guilty Wednesday to supporting a terror group, the Justice Department announced.

Texas-born Omer Kuzu, 23, spent five years handling communications for the jihadist group before his capture last year by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

He and his brother traveled to Turkey on October 16, 2014, where they connected with people linked to the Islamic State and were smuggled across the border into Syria and then to IS-held territory in Iraq.

Trained as a fighter, he was eventually assigned to IS telecommunications operations, helping to repair telecoms equipment, according to the charges against him.

Kuzu was returned to the United States after his capture and first appeared in federal court in Texas on August 1, 2019.

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After pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a terror group, Kuzu faces up to 20 years in prison.

His sentencing is set for January 22, 2021.

"The Department of Justice remains committed to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to join and support ISIS," said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.

Demers said the Kuzu case was an example of the United States being willing to repatriate its nationals who join the outlawed jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.

Washington has assailed allies in Europe for refusing to repatriate and try their own nationals who joined IS -- and who are now sitting in prison camps in Iraq and Syria.

"We hope countries around the world, including our European allies and partners, will likewise take responsibility for their own citizens who traveled to support ISIS." Demers said.

Islamic State Omer Kuzu
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