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NYC Man: Joining ISIS Was a Horrible Mistake

It was 'obviously the worst decision I've ever made'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2016 2:22 AM CDT
NYC Man: Joining ISIS Was a Horrible Mistake
ISIS fighters parade with a missile in Raqqa, Syria, in June 2014, around the time Mo joined the group.   (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center, File)

Joining ISIS was "obviously the worst decision I've ever made in my life," admits a New York City man who fled after five months in Syria and lived to tell the tale to NBC News. In a Dateline interview, the man, a Columbia University graduate identified only as "Mo," describes how he went to Syria in June 2014 and quickly became disillusioned after witnessing sickening brutality. "At one point towards the end as things were getting more and more serious, I did see severed heads placed on spiked poles," says the 27-year-old. After five months, he fled to Turkey and banged on the door of the US Consulate. He was brought back to the US and is now in federal custody.

Mo says joining the group was a "misunderstanding," and a former FBI agent notes that when Mo joined up, "a lot of people were not convinced that ISIS [was] a bad terrorist organization." Mo now faces up to 25 years in prison on charges including receiving military training from a terrorist organization, but he has been cooperating fully with authorities since his arrest and could receive a lighter sentence. He says he is sharing his story, which will be aired in full on Sunday's Dateline, to stop others from making the same mistake. "I'm helping in every sense that I can to help rid the world of the evil that I saw," he says. "And it's an arrow in my quiver every time I help." (Thousands of his fellow New Yorkers are on an ISIS hit list.)

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