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Ivy League Student Doesn’t Want To Be Punished For Joining ISIS
We all make mistakes. That’s part of being human. You spill mustard on your shirt or leave your credit card at the bar — life will go on. Those are mistakes you can recover from. But then there are the other kinds of mistakes, like tripping over the edge of a cliff or sharing a needle with a homeless guy, for which you will suffer tremendously.
Joining the Islamic State falls into the latter category. And a young Columbia University dropout named Mohimanul Alam Bhuiya learned that the hard way after fleeing from the terrorist organization, with whom he served as an armed militant for five months before realizing he majorly screwed up.
“I am an American who’s trying to get back home from Syria,” Bhuiya wrote in an email to the FBI in October 2014, a week before his escape. Then he adds this gem (emphasis ours):
“I just want to get back home. All I want is this extraction, complete exoneration thereafter, and have everything back to normal with me and my family.”
I don’t think that’s how this works.
The FBI never rescued Bhuiya; he escaped on his own. But they did arrest him the moment he returned to his native New York. And instead of being granted complete exoneration, Bhuiya was charged with providing material support and receiving military training from the Islamic State. Oops!
Now, Bhuiya, who pleaded guilty to both charges, is facing up to 25 years in prison. And while the court proceeding are private, Bhuiya is taking his show on the road. In fact, the Justice Department allowed him to tell his story on national television.
In a May interview with NBC News, Bhuiya recounted his adventures in the Middle East, and explained his motivations for going there. Life with the terrorist organization, he believed, would be like living in an Islamic utopia — a conclusion he somehow arrived at after watching hours of ISIS YouTube videos. Much to his surprise, it turned out to be complete hell.
When asked by NBC’s Richard Engel if he saw “evidence of all the gore that we see in the ISIS propaganda,” the reformed jihadist replied: “Um, at one point towards the end, as things were getting more and more serious, I did see severed heads placed on spiked poles.”
Realizing that his life was in danger, Bhuiya made a run for it. During his time with ISIS, he had trained in the art of jihadist warfare and worked as both a gate guard and an accountant. But he maintains that he never saw combat; though, he does admit to carrying a gun, according to the Washington Post. His journey home took him through Turkey, where he hopped on a plane back to New York, where he grew up and, according to the Washington Post, spent one semester studying at Columbia.
There’s a lot to be gained from Bhuiya’s willingness to openly discuss his time with ISIS. For one, he’s giving the FBI some great intel. But perhaps more importantly, his sordid tale provides a potent counter-narrative to that advanced by the ISIS propaganda machine, which has attracted thousands of recruits from around the world with its slickly produced YouTube videos and utopian promises.
“I want to be the voice that helps deter extremism and really attack false ideology at its core,” he told NBC. “It’s something I’m absolutely committed to and my parents know my commitment and the government knows my commitment and I hope America can see my commitment as well.”
Will Bhuiya’s cooperation pay off? Probably not to the extent he’d like it to. On an official ISIS form Bhuiya filled out when he first joined the group, which was obtained by NBC, and which included his Brooklyn address, the phone numbers of his family members, and other personal information, Bhuiya was described as having a plan to “break down [i.e. crash] aircraft.”
And while Bhuiya claimed in the NBC interview to have told ISIS of his grand plan in order to avoid being sent to the frontline, that’s one of those mistakes you simply can’t recover from.
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Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.