- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2016

A New York City resident who fled to Syria to join the Islamic State told NBC News in an interview airing this week that linking with the terror group was the “worst decision” of his life.

The 27-year-old former Columbia University student — identified only as “Mo” — spent five months with the Islamic State before he returned to the U.S. and was promptly charged with two counts: providing material support to a terrorist organization and receiving military training from a terrorist organization, the FBI told NBC.

The man pleaded guilty to both charges and will face upwards of 25 years in prison when he’s eventually sentenced, but in the meantime has signed a cooperation agreement that has allowed the authorities to learn details about other suspected terrorists, the FBI said in a statement.

While still in federal custody, “Mo” gave NBC a rare interview that offers insight from of one of the dozens of Americans who have traveled overseas to link with the terrorist organization.

Mo left the U.S. in June 2014 after being enticed by the terror group’s propaganda and traveled to Syria. Before long, however, he began reconsidering his decision.

“At one point towards the end as things were getting more and more serious, I did see severed heads placed on spiked poles,” he told NBC. “Like a lot of things, I just blocked it out.

“It’s obviously the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life,” he said.

After five months, he escaped by fleeing Syria through Turkey and approaching the U.S. consulate for help, NBC reported.

“It was a tremendous relief,” he told NBC. “When I got to the door of the consulate, I literally just banged on the door and I’m like, ‘Let me in.’”

Diplomats obliged, but not without alerting the FBI, who in turn secured an arrest warrant. Now as he attempts to make up for his trek by providing information to the FBI, he urges others not to make the same mistakes.

“The Islamic State is not bringing Islam to the world, and people need to know that. And I’ll say that … till the day I die,” he said.

NBC’s interview with the former Islamic State member will air in part Friday evening before being shown in full during Sunday’s episode of “Dateline,” the network said.


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