An Iraqi Kurdish general said an American member of the Islamic State militant group has surrendered to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, the Associated Press reports.
Maj. Gen. Feisal Helkani of the peshmerga identified the man as Mohammed Jamal Khweis. According to reports in the Kurdish media, the suspected Islamic State fighter is 27 and is thought to have been born in Virginia.
The Kurdish publication Rudaw reports that Khweis told the troops that he entered Syria two months ago and subsequently headed to Iraq. He was initially mistaken for a suicide bomber, but peshmerga forces now think that Khweis had been hoping to leave the country and that he confused their territory near Sinjar with the Turkish border, Rudaw reports.
No one answered the door of the two-story rowhouse in the Alexandria, Va., area where public records list Khweis's family as living. Around 1:40 p.m., a man in a black car sped to the front of the house and yelled at about a dozen reporters and cameramen who had gathered to leave before driving away.
After a bizarre confrontation in which he sprayed reporters with a hose, the man, who identified himself as Jamal Khweis, emerged from his home and told reporters he did not know his son's whereabouts. He repeatedly declined to say when the last time he had contact with the young man.
"My son, he's old enough, and I don't know where he's at," the man said.
The man said he had talked to the FBI, though it was not clear if that was in reference to his son or to the reporters gathered in front of his house.
Reached by phone, another relative, who did not know until then that the young man had been captured, said Mohammed Jamal Khweis went on vacation to Greece and Turkey about two months ago with some friends. Khweis's parents are Palestinian, the relative confirmed.
Video posted to social media had shown the man identified as Khweis telling Kurdish forces that he is from the United States and that he had been in the Iraqi city of Mosul. A number of images published by the Kurdish media appear to show that he has a Virginia driver's license. Helkani had told the Associated Press that Khweis was carrying a large amount of cash.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad told CBS News that it could not confirm that an American was detained. Federal prosecutors have charged 80 men and women over alleged connections to the Islamic State, though some estimates suggest that as many as 250 U.S. citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the extremist group.
Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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