Abdelhamid Al-Madioum from US who is jailed in Syria says ISIS recruited him on Twitter
A 22-year-old from Minneapolis who is jailed in northern Syria says was recruited to join ISIS on Twitter when he was just 18 years old.
Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, a naturalized US citizen, told CBS News his story from a prison run by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Al-Madioum said he entered ISIS territory in 2015, when he was 18. He had been contacted on Twitter, and started watching propaganda videos that claimed ISIS was helping Muslims.
He said he saw ISIS terrorism as “fake news,” and wanted to become a doctor for the extremist group.
“They gave me a blank check to buy whatever I wanted,” Al-Madioum said. “Here’s the thing. People like me that see this, don’t really believe the news.”
Al-Madioum disappeared while on a family vacation in Morocco in 2015, according to court documents detailed by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2017.
His parents said he had been on his phone more than usual, and that he secretly booked a flight to Istanbul. From there, he made his way to Syria and joined the Islamic State.
After failed attempts to reach their son, Al-Madioum’s parents went to the US consulate and spoke to FBI agents about their son’s disappearance. FBI agents found notes in his room that detailed his plans to leave the Islamic state.
Al-Madioum told CBS News that while living in IS territory, he lost his arm to a US airstrike, and was later detained by the SDF.
He said he has been interrogated by FBI agents, who told him he could face up to 15 years in prison.
Al-Madioum thinks he should be forgiven for joining ISIS.
“Fifteen years is a very long time for mistakes you made coming to Syria,” he told CBS News.
According to George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, 194 people have been charged in the US with offenses related to the Islamic State since March 2014. Of the 194, 143 pleaded guilty or were found guilty in a trial. They and were given an average sentence of 13.5 years.
Officials from the SDF told CBS news that they manage several prisons across Syria that hold 12,000 ISIS suspects, including 4,500 foreigners.