Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 26, went when I was not thinking straight adding conditions in Mosul are really, really bad: It is very strict and no smoking
An American who is accused of becoming an Islamic State fighter said he made a bad decision when he decided to travel to Mosul in Iraq, and that he had been looking to escape when he was captured by Kurdish forces this week.
Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 26, said he had been trying to make contact with Iraqi Kurdish forces so he could return home to Virginia when he turned himself over to the Peshmerga on Monday.
At the time I made the decision [to travel to Mosul], I was not thinking straight, Khweis told Kurdish news station K24. On the way there I regretted, and I wanted to go back home.
He said he lived in Isis-controlled Mosul for about a month, but that life there was really, really bad. Khweis said he did not agree with Islamic States ideology, which was why he wanted to escape.
It is very strict and no smoking there, he said. There are a lot of foreign fighters walking around with weapons, and many are from central and south Asia.
Captain Daham Khalaf, of the eighth brigades of the Kurdish peshmerga forces who detained Khweis, told the Guardian earlier this week that Khweis approached the forces about 4am on Monday.
Khalaf said Khweis had hidden himself and that his forces first thought he was a would-be suicide bomber and tried to shoot him.
We were observing the area where he hid until around 6am, when he came forward and shouted not to fire on him, Khalaf said.
Khalaf said Khweis was carrying large amounts of cash in different currencies, three mobile phones and three forms of identification, including a drivers license that quickly circulated on social media.
Thats him, his uncle, Kamal Khweis, told NBC News on Monday. I cannot believe it. He doesnt even speak Arabic. Isis? I cannot believe this.
Kamal Khweis said Mohamad told their family he was visiting Europe on holiday and had last told them he was in Greece.
The State Department did not immediately make an official statement, aside from acknowledging media reports about the fighters capture.
To get to Mosul, Khweis said, he travelled from the US to London in December, then travelled to Amsterdam where he stayed for a week. From there he went to Turkey, where he met an Iraqi woman he said helped him to travel to Mosul.
We spent some time together and she said that she is from Iraq, from Mosul, Khweis said. We spent some time in Turkey, got to know each other.
Khweis said the Iraqi womans sister had been married to an Isis fighter, and they were able to find people who could take them from Turkey to Syria and then to Mosul.
I dont know the exact places we passed by, but we arrived in Mosul on 16 January, Khweis said.
But once he arrived, he realized he did not want to live in such a strict environment.
Our daily life was basically prayer, eating and learning about the religion for about eight hours, he said.
He said he sought out the Kurds because they are good with the Americans and that once he met them, they treated him well.
The interview ended with a message to Khweiss fellow Americans about Isis, which he referred to as Daesh, an acronym for a variation of the groups name in Arabic.
My message to the American people is that life in Mosul is really very bad, he said. The people who control Mosul dont represent a religion. Daesh does not represent a religion. I dont see them as good Muslims.