An American man who was just 14 when his father took him to Syria to join Islamic State was charged with aiding a terrorist group, US authorities announced Wednesday.
Jihad Ali, now 19, and his father Emraan Ali were repatriated to the US from Syria, where they were held since last year by the Syrian Democratic Forces, among hundreds of foreign fighters captured after the defeat of the Islamic State caliphate.
Both father and son were charged in Miami federal court with providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
The father, a Trinidad & Tobago-born naturalized American, took his wife, New York-born Jihad, and five other children to Syria in 2015 to enlist in the extremist group.
The father had been inspired by the teachings of US-born Al-Qaeda preacher Anwar Awlaki.
Jihad Ali told FBI investigators last year that he was “excited to go somewhere new and see the world,” according to court filings.
Later in 2015 he entered Islamic State weapons and warfare training and was assigned to an Islamic State battalion for English speakers, posting boasts of his joining the fighting on Facebook.
“Jihad described some of the training as cool and other portions as scary,” the court filing said.
He and his father, now 53, were involved in several combat situations, and were joined by yet another of Emraan’s sons, who was not identified by the US Justice Department and was younger than Jihad.
The three surrendered in Baghuz, Syria in March, the last stronghold of Islamic State in Syria, and taken custody of by the SDF, allies of the Western anti-Islamic State coalition.
Jihad and his father both appeared in federal court in Florida Wednesday, the Justice Department said.
There was no indication whether Jihad will be treated differently due to his having been a child when introduced to IS.
The charges carry up to 20 years in prison.
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