A Muslim-American who joined the Islamic State but later surrendered to Peshmerga fighters in Iraq claims he was “not thinking straight” when he enlisted in the group’s ranks.
Palestinian-American Mohamad Jamal Khweis turned himself in Monday near the town of Sinjar, according to Sky News. He was initially shot at due to fears that he might be a suicide bomber.
In an interview, he described the strict lifestyle surrounding ISIS troops, including not being allowed to smoke.
“I stayed (in Mosul) about a month and I found it very, very hard to live there,” Khweis said.
“On the way there I regretted, and I wanted to go back home after things didn’t work out and saw myself living in such an environment,” he continued.
Khweis told media that he had traveled to Europe before heading to Iraq last year, initially staying in London and Amsterdam before heading to Syria and Iraq with a girl he had met along the way in Turkey. He was in Mosul for a month before he decided he wanted to go home.
At the time of his capture, he was carrying $4,000 in cash, three mobile phones and three forms of ID.
He was quickly disillusioned with the Islamic State and had a message for Americans, concerning the region he was in.
“My message to the American people is that life in Mosul is really very bad”, he said. “The people who control Mosul don’t represent a religion.”
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