A Saudi-born Canadian citizen has been sentenced to life in prison Friday for his role as a member of Islamic terrorist group ISIS where he killed two hostages and helped produce the organization’s violent propaganda.
The Justice Department said 39-year-old Mohammed Khalifa’s sentence stems from a December 2021 guilty plea of providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death.
Khalifa grew up in Toronto and left the country for Syria in spring 2013 to join the terrorist group.
He was recruited to ISIS’s media department in early 2014 due to his ability to speak both English and Arabic fluently.
Khalifa was a notable member of terrorist group when it was taking journalists and humanitarian aid workers as hostages and holding them for ransom.
ISIS killed eight American, British and Japanese citizens in Syria from August 2014 to February 2015, including the filmed execution of American journalist James Foley that was briefly uploaded to YouTube.
Khalifa narrated and translated 15 videos for the terrorist group while serving on its media team. By 2016, he was directing supporter networks that distributed the propaganda to Western audiences. He left the media operation in late 2018.
Federal prosecutors said his most influential — and violent — propaganda videos were “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun” distributed in September 2014 and “Flames of War II: Until the Finals Hour” in November 2017.
In the final scenes of both videos, the attorney’s office said that a masked Khalifa is seen speaking to the camera before executing a Syrian soldier. Masked ISIS soldiers are also seen shooting kneeling prisoners in the videos.
Khalifa surrendered to Syrian Democratic Forces in January 2019 while fighting in Abu Badran, Syria. He was transferred into the custody of the FBI in 2021 and had his trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.