Captured American ISIS Fighter Is a ‘Gold Mine’ of Intelligence That Could Provide ‘Vital Clues’

March 17, 2016 Updated: March 17, 2016

The American member of the terror group ISIS that was captured recently could provide a “gold mine” of intelligence, an expert said.

Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 26, was captured in Iraq by Kurdish forces on Monday, thought to be the first time an American member of the terrorist group surrendered to enemy forces.

“He walked across and gave himself up,” Maj. Gen. Feisal Helkani of the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces told the Associated Press.

Khweis, a former Virginia resident, could be an “intelligence goldmine,” a former U.S. National Counterterrorism official told NBC.

“He could provide a window into the ISIS command structure,” said Seamus Hughes, who is now a deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.

“Who does he report to? What does his daily routine look like? And the most important thing–how did he get there?”

This photo posted online by PUK shows the Virginia driver's license found on a man who turned himself in to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq on Monday, March 14, 2016. (PUK Media via AP)
This photo posted online by PUK shows the Virginia driver’s license found on a man who turned himself in to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq on Monday, March 14, 2016. (PUK Media via AP)

 

Current officials as well as other former ones said Khweis could provide key operational details about how Western recruits have managed to link up with ISIS despite increasingly intense efforts by the United States, Turkey, and other European countries to prevent them from doing so.

Khweis himself apparently traveled to Europe before traveling through Turkey to Syria in December 2015, according to the Kurdistan Region Security Council. 

And officials hope Khweis can answer a critical question: What are Westerners doing for ISIS when they make it to Syria and Iraq?