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American Who Joined IS And Escaped Gets 20-Year Prison Sentence

Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces celebrate at the front line in the former IS stronghold of Raqqa on October 16.

An American who joined the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria and later escaped and said he regretted his "bad decision" has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 27, the son of Middle Eastern parents who grew up in Virginia, traveled to IS's Raqqa stronghold in December 2015 and spent a couple of months there getting religious training and allegedly preparing to become a suicide bomber.

He fled Raqqa in March 2016 and was captured by Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq, telling his captors that he wanted to return to the United States because he no longer saw IS militants as "good Muslims."

But U.S. prosecutors rejected his repudiation of extremist group and leveled terrorism charges against him when he returned to the United States in a case that resulted in his conviction in June.

Prosecutors called Khweis "unpredictable and dangerous" because he had "radicalized towards violent jihad" and "committed to serving as a suicide bomber."

Khweis in court on October 27 apologized for joining IS, calling it "the worst decision I ever made."

His lawyers had asked for a five-year sentence, but the court rejected that, citing his "radicalization."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP