Expert Weighs Value of Islamic State Defector

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) — After a federal judge heard a not-guilty plea Friday from a Virginia man who defected from the Islamic State group, an expert in extremism noted in an interview that the defendant’s cooperation could help counter terrorism-recruitment efforts.

The son of Palestinian immigrants, 26-year-old Mohamad Jamal Khweis is reportedly the first American captured on the Islamic State battlefield. He surrendered himself to Kurdish forces in March after apparently becoming disillusioned with ISIL’s ideology after a month.

“He believes that whatever he did was not a crime,” the defendant’s attorney, John Zwerling, told reporters after the Friday morning arraignment.