ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An American boy who appeared in an Islamic State (IS) propaganda video last year is being held by Kurdish forces in Syria, along with his mother.
The video, released in August, shows the 10-year-old boy who identifies himself as an American citizen named “Yusuf” and claims he is the son of a United States service member who deployed to Iraq.
The boy, staring straight into the camera, says he traveled from America to Syria two years ago with his mother. He delivers a grueling message to US President Donald Trump.
“The battle is not going to end in Raqqa or Mosul. It’s going to end in your lands,” he says, referring to the extremist group’s former de facto capitals in Syria and Iraq.
“My message to Trump…we will have victory. Get ready, for the fighting has just begun,” the boy warns.
Nearly 10 months later, his mother has spoken out, revealing the boy’s real name is Matthew, not Yusuf, and that he was forced to appear in the IS propaganda video.
According to his mother, her husband, Moussa El Hassani from Turkey, took the family on a trip there before forcing them to cross the border into Syria and join IS.
“We ended up in Raqqa,” she told the BBC. “The first thing I say to him is, ‘You’re crazy, and I’m leaving,’ and he said, with a big smile on his face, ‘Go ahead. You can try, but you won’t make it.’”
She said her husband was eventually killed in a strike on Raqqa shortly before US-led coalition forces liberated the city.
The boy’s mother also expressed her hope that the US government would recognize her son was not a member of the extremist group and that he was forced to deliver the threats.