‘The United States continues to demonstrate its commitment to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to join and support ISIS…’
(AFP) A 23-year-old Texas man has been indicted for providing support to a terror organization after traveling to Syria to join the Islamic State group (ISIS), the Justice Department said Thursday.
Omer Kuzu, a U.S. native born in Dallas, Texas, was indicted by a federal jury in that city for conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.
Kuzu appeared before a judge for the first time on Thursday to face charges that could send him to prison for up to 20 years, the department said in a statement.
According to the Justice Department, Kuzu was detained by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), recently turned over to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and returned to Texas.
“The United States continues to demonstrate its commitment to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to join and support ISIS,” assistant attorney general John Demers said.
“Kuzu traveled overseas and joined ISIS as part of his conspiracy with others to provide material support to the foreign terrorist organization.
“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.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday, Kuzu and his brother allegedly traveled from Houston, Texas, to Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2014 to join ISIS.
Kuzu told agents that he ended up in Mosul, Iraq, where he received training from ISIS instructors.
He then went back to Syria, where he was paid $125 a month to repair communications equipment for frontline ISIS fighters.
As Kurdish forces advanced in early 2019, he fled and was captured with other ISIS members by the SDF.
The announcement of Kuzu’s indictment comes two weeks after the Justice Department announced charges against a naturalized American who was an ISIS sniper.
Kazakhstan-born Ruslan Maratovich Asainov was charged in New York with providing material support for a terror group after being captured in Syria and repatriated to the United States.
Asainov, 43, fought for ISIS in Syria for five years before he was captured by the SDF and handed over to U.S. custody.
Several other US citizens have been repatriated, including women married to IS fighters, a man who taught English to ISIS followers, a former university student who became an informant for the US government shortly after joining the group, and a man who was captured before he joined in any combat.
They are among thousands of foreign fighters and their family members captured last year in the US-led campaign to eradicate the group from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
Washington has pressured allies to take back their own citizens who joined ISIS and place them on trial at home, but Britain, France and others have so far declined to do so
© Agence France-Presse