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Press Release

United States Citizen Who Joined ISIS Charged with Material Support Violations

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – An indictment and arrest warrant were unsealed today in the federal court of the District of Columbia charging Lirim Sylejmani, a Kosovo-born naturalized U.S. citizen, with conspiring to provide, providing, and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and receiving training from ISIS, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2339B and 2339D. 

            Sylejmani was detained overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and recently transferred into FBI custody.  Sylejmani made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

            “The United States is committed to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to join ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers.  “I want to thank the agents, analysts and prosecutors involved for their effort to hold the defendant responsible for his actions.”

            “The defendant is a U.S. citizen who abandoned the country that welcomed him to join ISIS in Syria” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin.  “He will now be held accountable for his actions in an American courtroom.  Our national security prosecutors and law enforcement partners will continue to ensure that those who threaten our country are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”   

            “Today’s announcement underscores the FBI’s commitment to combatting terrorism worldwide. Sylejmani allegedly traveled to Syria with the intent to join, train with, and fight on behalf of ISIS, said Matthew R. Alcoke, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Counterterrorism Division. “The FBI Washington Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to relentlessly pursue all individuals who choose to support terrorist organizations, no matter where they are located.”

            According to the allegations in the indictment, from November 2015 through February 2019, Sylejmani conspired to provide and provided material support and resources, including personnel and services, to ISIS in Syria and received military training from the terrorist organization.  The defendant was captured by the SDF in 2019 and has spoken to a number of media outlets about his time with ISIS.

            The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

            This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.  Assistant U.S Attorneys Jessi Camille Brooks and Brenda J. Johnson of the National Security Section, and Trial Attorney David Smith of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are litigating the case, with assistance from Paralegal Specialist Jorge Casillas.

Updated September 16, 2020

National Security
Press Release Number: 20-108