BAGHDAD, March 14, 2016 – Kurdish forces on Monday, detained an American member of ISIS in Iraq. The American was identified as Mohammed Jamal Amin, from Virginia. Amin was unarmed when detained but carried three cellphones and several thousand dollars in mixed currency. American authorities were investigating how a young man from the DC-Metro area made his way into northern Iraq and to piece together his travels and find out what drew him there.
Maj. Gen. Feisal Helkani told The Associated Press that Amin surrendered on Monday morning at an inspection point near the town of Sinjar, which was retaken by Iraqi forces from ISIS militants late last year. Helkani said Amin had been “lurking near the peshmerga lines” since late Sunday night, and his troops first tried to shoot him, assuming he was a would-be suicide bomber.
Amin had mistaken Peshmerga territory for the Turkish border. According to authorities, he entered Syria from Turkey, two months ago and traveled to Mosul in Iraq.
Syrian Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State have told The Associated Press that they are seeing an increase in the number of ISIS members surrendering, following recent territorial losses. Iraqi forces have struggled to retake ground from the Islamic State, which despite a series of territorial losses in Iraq and Syria in the past six months, still controls large swaths of land in both countries.
Inside Iraq, ISIS has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide attacks that have killed more than 100 people over the past few weeks. Iraqi officials claim that the terror group has launched a number of chemical weapons attacks. Local officials in the town of Taza in Iraq’s north say a recent attack injured more than 600 people.
Local officials in the town of Taza in Iraq’s north say a recent attack injured more than 600 people. The attacks follow a string of advances by Iraqi forces backed by US-led airstrikes, including in the western city of Ramadi, which was declared fully “liberated” by Iraqi and US-led coalition officials last month. IS still controls large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria and has declared an Islamic “caliphate” on the territory it holds. The extremist group also controls Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, as well as the city of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad.
Last week, Brett McGurk, President Barack Obama’s envoy to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, announced that IS had lost more than 1,150 square miles of territory in Syria and more than 600 fighters over the past month. State Department officials confirmed that the U.S. authorities were aware of the reports that an American allegedly for ISIS “has been captured by Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.”