American Detainee Worked for Islamic State in Syria

An American detainee was carrying thumb drives containing files on how to make bombs plus administrative spreadsheets describing work he did for the Islamic State when he surrendered in Syria last year, Associated Press reports, citing documents that the U.S. government filed in federal court.

The unidentified man is being held by the authorities without charge, but the government has justified that in more than 150 pages. The justification is full of details about the man, but questions about why he was in Syria emerged. The man told the authorities that he was kidnapped and imprisoned by the Islamic State and had press credentials to do freelance writing about the conflict.

The whole situation became a reason for debate about the government’s legal right to hold enemy combatants linked with Islamic State under war powers written after the September 11 attacks as well as the constitutional rights afforded every citizen of the United States.

A detailed planned route of the detainee was also included in the government’s court filing. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Turkey, Syria and the United States were all part of the itinerary. The detainee went to college in Louisiana. A person that had met the detainee in New Orleans told the FBI that he behaved wild while he was a student, he was gambling, using marijuana etc.

According to the unnamed associate, the detainee did not work but used to receive money from the Saudi Arabian government every month. His mother was also described as very rich. In about 2005 or 2006, the detainee lived shortly in Covington, Louisiana, but he argued with friends about not repaying money he used to gamble and returned to Saudi Arabia, where he has a dual citizenship.

In 2014, during a visit to Syria, the detainee signed up to be an IS fighter. He attended one of the militant’s training camps and later worked jobs like distributing vehicles to members of the Islamic State and guarding an oil field under control of the group. The detainee was captured around September 11, 2017, by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces at a checkpoint. He said he had been walking for two days, while the forces said all the land within two days’ walk of the screening checkpoint was controlled by IS.

The court filing shows that the unnamed detainee identified himself as Daesh and told the SDF that he wanted to surrender and talk to the Americans. When he surrendered, he was carrying 4,200 dollars and a global positioning device.

U.S. officials have been investigating him. They are trying to find out why he went to Syria and determine whether he should be charged in federal courts and there is a possibility he would be handed over to another country, maybe Saudi Arabia.

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