Kurdish peshmerga fighters say they have detained an American, 27-year-old Virginia resident Muhammad Jamal Amin, after he defected from the Islamic State and tried to escape into Turkey.
— كوردستانيمه (@kurdistan83) March 14, 2016
According to CBS News, the peshmerga initially thought Amin was a suicide bomber and fired warning shots when he approached their position, but he identified himself as a defector and surrendered. He was taken to the city of Erbil, which has a large American military presence.
Kurdish television displayed various identifying items, including Amin’s cell phone, bank cards and Virginia driver’s license, and related his claim that he is the son of a Palestinian father and Iraqi mother. More specifically, his mother is said to hail from Mosul, the Iraqi city currently held by ISIS.
The Kurdish Rudaw news agency reports that Amin entered Syria from Turkey to join the Islamic State only two months ago, then spent some time in Mosul before deciding ISIS was not a good fit for him. His encounter with the peshmerga is described as a mistake — the defector thought he has reached the border and was approaching Turkish border guards, rather than Kurdish forces.
The Associated Press reported Monday morning that an Iraqi Kurdish general confirmed the report of Amin’s detention. As of Monday morning, the U.S. and Iraqi governments had not confirmed the Kurdish report.