A 26-year-old man from Virginia who was captured in Iraq after deserting ISIS has spoken out about his time with the terrorist organization.
“I don’t see them as good Muslims,” Mohamad Khweis told a Kurdish news station. “I wanted to go back to America.”
Mohamad, born to Palestinian immigrants in Virginia, went to Europe in December 2015, eventually winding up in Turkey.
It was there he met an Iraqi girl from Mosul, which was seized by ISIS in 2014. She told him she “knows somebody who could take us from Turkey to Syria and then from Syria to Mosul, so I decided to go with her," Mohamad said.
According to The Washington Post, Mohamad told Kurdistan 24 that life under the Islamic State included a “very strict” schedule of prayer and eight hours per day of religious instruction and lessons on Sharia law.
“I didn’t really support their ideology,” he said.
Mohamad stayed in Mosul for about a month, then began planning his exit. He reached out to somebody who he thought could help him get back to Turkey. His goal was ultimately to return to the United States.
“It was pretty hard to live in Mosul,” he told Kurdistan 24. “It’s not like the Western countries, you know, it’s very strict.”
Mohamad was taken into custody on March 14 in a town called Sinjar, roughly 80 miles from Mosul.
According to The Washington Post, the FBI is currently investigating Mohamad’s case.
Mohamad’s uncle, Kamal Khweis, spoke to NBC News, saying that he was glad to see his nephew renouncing the Islamic State in his interview.
“He is not with those bad people,” Kamal told NBC News.
“My message to the American people is the life in Mosul, it’s really, really bad,” Mohamad said. “The people who were controlling Mosul don’t represent the religion. Dash, ISIS, ISIL, they don’t represent the religion.”