A Minnesota man who joined ISIS and was captured fighting in Syria says he is sorry for his actions and wants to come home, even if it means facing federal charges.
Abdelhamid Al-Madioum grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and graduated from high school in suburban Minneapolis. According to WCCO-TV reporter Holly Williams, who found him in a prison in Northeastern Syria.
According to United States authorities, Al-Madioum slipped away from his family while he was on vacation in Morocco and took a solo flight to Istanbul, where he then traveled to Iraq, where he joined up with ISIS.
Al-Madioum says he was shown ISIS propaganda films via an ISIS twitter recruitment program where they promised to help refugees fleeing Syria. He claims, implausibly, that he joined ISIS for humanitarian reasons. "I will be very honest with you, I thought I was going to come and help people," Al-Madioum told Williams.
Since joining ISIS, Al-Madioum lost his arm and his wife in a U.S. drone strike, and his children have vanished. He was captured by Syrian forces and is currently being held in a Northeastern Syrian prison.
Al-Madioum's disappearance was first reported by local Minnesota media in 2017, and no one in the U.S. had heard from him until Williams' chance encounter. His name was first reported as part of a federal investigation into ISIS radicalization of some of the Somali-American Minnesota community, although Al-Madioum himself is not a part of that community, and his recruitment by ISIS does not appear to have been a part of that effort.
Federal officials refused to comment to either WCCO or the Star Tribune on Al-Madioum's purported discovery, but when he initially went missing, authorities searched his house and found numerous items that indicated that he had most likely been radicalized by ISIS and had defected in order to join them.
According to Williams, Al-Madioum expressed a desire to return home to the United States, even though he is aware that he faces federal charges and a potentially lengthy prison sentence in the United States upon his return. He also had a message for his parents: "Mom and Dad, I am really, really sorry for hurting you guys, and you guys came to America seeking a better life, not for yourselves, but for me. I hope that you will be able to forgive me."