How a NYC College Kid Died Fighting for ISIS

Court docs show Samy Mohammed el-Goarany, 24, reportedly died in November
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2016 8:21 AM CDT
How a NYC College Kid Died Fighting for ISIS
In this undated file photo released by a militant website, ISIS militants hold up their weapons and wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa, Syria.   (Militant website via AP, File)

It's a long way from SoHo to Syria, but somehow a New York City college student ended up dying there last fall fighting for ISIS, prosecutors say. Per court records, 24-year-old Samy Mohammed el-Goarany showed "an increased interest in militant forms of Islam" and headed to Syria in February 2015, the New York Daily News reports. He was killed in November, but not before penning a note that reportedly read: "If you're reading this, then know that I've been killed in battle and am now with our Lord." The court papers were filed Monday in Manhattan federal court in a case against Arizona man Ahmed Mohammed el-Gammal, accused of helping Goarany get to Syria, amNewYork reports. The two men apparently started messaging each other on Facebook in August 2014, after Goarany, a student at an unnamed Manhattan college, noticed Gammal posting pro-ISIS comments.

Per court documents: By October, the two men had met in NYC, and Gammal started working with a Turkish man to expedite Goarany's journey overseas. By January 2015, Goarany was in Istanbul, and arrived in Syria the following month. Gammal was arrested in August 2015 on a slew of charges, including providing and conspiring to provide materials to support the militant group; he's pleaded not guilty ahead of his Dec. 5 trial. Goarany made a video in September 2015 after learning of Gammal's arrest, noting he went to Syria of his own accord. "I didn't come to this decision with anybody's influence or anybody's recruitment," he said in the video, per CNN. Gammal's lawyers say reports of Goarany's death are "unreliable," noting it's possible he wrote the note so he could fall off the radar of those monitoring his activity, ABC News notes. (Meanwhile, the "final battle" against ISIS for Mosul has started.)

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