One of the biggest questions for Western governments that has played out in recent days in the American media is what to do with Western ISIS recruits who are now in the custody of U.S.-backed forces as the Islamic State’s geographical military presence collapses into nothing.
At least one previous case involving disgraced former FBI Director James Comey — where the FBI under his direction welcomed back an American ISIS terrorist from Syria and gave him a job working with the Justice Department — may be an example of how *not* to handle such cases.
The American media are now rallying around the plight of Alabama ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, who left the U.S. for Syria to marry an ISIS fighter in 2014.
During her time inside the Islamic State, she openly called for attacks on the U.S. and encouraged the supporters of terrorist groups to “spill American blood.”
But now that Muthana has been captured by Kurdish forces and is currently imprisoned by U.S.-backed forces, she’s using the media to make a case for her return to the U.S. and for leniency.
Yesterday, her attorney from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) claimed that she wants to help “deradicalize” others:
The script that Muthana and her attorneys appear to be following is the case of Brooklyn ISIS terrorist Mohimanul Alam Bhuiya, who joined the terror group in Syria in June 2014 and defected back to the U.S. with FBI assistance later that same year.
Bhuiya was charged with material support for terrorism upon his return and faced 25 years in prison, but a federal judge last June sentenced him to supervised release with no jail time the New York Times reported, thanks to the intervention and recommendation of his Justice Department co-workers.
Bhuiya’s return helped the FBI under Comey to clear up a case they had previously botched.
According to the criminal complaint against Bhuiya, he had been approached on June 5, 2014, by FBI agents who had been monitoring his interactions online and were concerned he might try to leave the U.S. to join ISIS. He later explained to the Columbia Spectator that he had been radicalized by a “Muslims in Diaspora” course he had taken at Columbia University.
Exactly a week after the FBI visited him he was allowed to get on a plane to Turkey, where he crossed the border into Syria and joined the terror group.
According to an interview he gave to NBC News, he received indoctrination on Islamic law and military tactics at an ISIS training camp. On his ISIS application found in personnel files later obtained by NBC News, in addition to his personal data, Bhuiya detailed that he had a plan to “break down [i.e. crash] aircraft” that he wanted to present to the terror group.
On the same day that Bhuiya was allowed to leave the U.S., ISIS committed one of their worst atrocities: the mass murder of more than 1,000 unarmed military cadets at Camp Speicher near Tikrit, Iraq.
The terror group separated the Shia and non-Muslim cadets from their Sunni comrades and killed them individually and in groups. As many as 1,700 were murdered by ISIS during the Camp Speicher massacre. Mass graves of their victims are still being discovered. ISIS released a propaganda video of the killings.
According to Bhuiya, he was stationed in the Syrian town of Manbij near Aleppo.
An August 2014 UN report on atrocities in Syria and Iraq documents that an execution site was set up in a parking lot in Manbij, where public beheadings, amputations, and beatings were carried out.
The UN report also states that two weeks prior to Bhuiya’s arrival in Syria 153 teenage male Kurdish students were abducted in Manbij coming home from exams.
During Bhuiya’s tenure with ISIS, they humiliated and summarily executed 250 Syrian soldiers, beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and massacred several thousand Yezidis in northern Iraq while abducting thousands more.
Bhuiya’s criminal complaint states that on October 31, 2014, he sent the following email to the FBI indicating that he wanted to come home and was seeking [“complete”]“exoneration”:
Slipping back into Turkey, he showed up at a U.S. consulate several days later. After meeting with officials, he was deported back to the U.S.
What may have prompted Bhuiya’s return from Syria was an October 2014 60 Minutesinterview with then-FBI Director Comey, who said that Americans who had joined ISIS were welcome to come back home. He lamely warned that “we will track them very carefully.”
After being embraced by Comey’s FBI and cooperating with the bureau’s investigators, Mohimanul Alam Bhuiya eventually received the complete exoneration that he sought in his email — namely supervised release with no jail time (he was facing 25 years in prison).
Open sourced media articles indicate Bhuiya is the same jihadi we reported previously: New York: Judge gives leniency to Muslim immigrant who joined Islamic State.
As we noted then, “There’s no indication that the unnamed former ISIS terrorist has renounced Islam.”
And as the judge who sentenced him stated:
“I don’t think incarceration is required, but long-term supervised release is, because of the danger you pose to the United States,” the judge, Jack B. Weinstein, told the man. Judge Weinstein added that the public would be safer if he were still on hand to assist the government if it needed him. “In my opinion,” the judge said, “you will be doing much more for society than if a prison sentence were imposed.”
…grateful prosecutors persuaded a judge in Brooklyn to sentence him to supervised release instead of prison time — even though he had initially faced 25 years behind bars.
The efforts of the cooperator, who is now 29, went beyond merely telling the government what he knew about ISIS’s field techniques and its propaganda tactics. He was never called upon to testify in court, but he helped the authorities in different ways, going onto television once to condemn the Islamic State and later counseling a 15-year-old boy who was considering fighting with the group. While working with the government, he also met with researchers, journalists and academics, prosecutors said, to help them understand “the reality of life in ISIS.”
“We’ve watched him closely,” said Seth DuCharme, a prosecutor who worked with him when he ran the counterterrorism unit of the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn. “And we have developed — with a great sense of caution — trust in him over time.”
A decade from now we’ll be reading about how the children of returning jihadis killed Americans and how there was nothing the FBI or the media could have known or prevented it from happening.