American ISIS Boy Says ‘It’s All Behind Me Now’

A YOUNG American teen who appeared in ISIS videos has said it’s ‘all behind me now’ as he settles back into life in the US.

An American boy who spent three years living in the Islamic State has said ‘it’s all behind me now’ as he returns to life in the US.

Matthew, now 13, was taken to the IS heartland of Syria in April 2015 by his mother and stepfather. Moussa Elhassani, his stepdad, had become radicalised in the US by ISIS propaganda and brought his family to Raqqa where he trained as a sniper for the group. Matthew describes life in the IS capital as ‘pretty noisy’ where he heard ‘gunshots normally. Once in awhile a random explosion’.

He was forced to appear in disturbing propaganda videos, made by his Elhassani and his mother Samantha Sally. In one he addresses Donald Trump to tell him the ‘fight is coming to your soil’, and in another, he roleplays killing American soldiers with a suicide belt. He said he and his mother ‘were all crying out of joy’ when the abusive Elhassani was killed by a US drone strike in 2017.

His mother said she was ‘tricked’ into traveling to Islamic State by her partner, though earlier this month was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for financing terror. It was revealed that she had made several trips to Hong Kong in the months before taking her son to the Middle East, where she deposited gold and cash to IS funds.

In 2018 Matthew was rescued by the US military and flown to America, where he lives with his father. When asked how it felt to be back home, Matthew said ‘It’s like being in tight clothes or tight shoes all day and then just taking it off and just feeling nice and chilling in a hot bath. That’s what it felt like. Sweet relief’.

The young teen said that his IS experiences are ‘all behind me now. I was so young I did not really understand any of it’.

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Written by

Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...


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