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Justice Department Enlists 'Reformed' ISIS Fighter in Risky Deradicalization Scheme

The Justice Department has enlisted a former Islamic State fighter in what they say is an effort to combat radicalization.

But the program, centered around Brooklyn native Mohimanul Alam Bhuiya, is fraught with considerable risks as so-called "deradicalization" efforts around the globe have failed spectacularly, and recent high-profile cases of former terrorists-turned-therapists experiments have not ended well.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Mo, a U.S. citizen whose full name is under seal, left New York City in the summer of 2014 to join Islamic State in Syria.

Mo, now 28 years old, quickly became disillusioned, he says now. Four months in, he sent an email to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Please help me get home,” he wrote, according to court documents. “I’m fed up with this evil."

[...]

Authorities in November 2014 deported Mo back to Brooklyn, where he pleaded guilty to two terrorism charges. He told the FBI that he acted as a building guard for Islamic State and taught other recruits how to use computer software.

Since then, Mo’s work with the U.S. government has included an unusual form of cooperation: conducting an intervention with a 15-year-old boy from Brooklyn who was posting tweets that appeared to support violence and Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The intervention so far has successfully dissuaded the teenager from joining the terrorist group.

It turns out that the Justice Department program is intended to reduce the sentences of U.S. terror supporters:

Under the new initiative, Brooklyn federal prosecutors will also use more discretion before charging someone with providing “material support” to terrorists, a broad violation that carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors may try to arrest some individuals on a lesser charge without the terrorism stigma, such as wire fraud.

For suspects already in custody, prosecutors will give more consideration to a shorter prison sentence in exchange for a longer period of supervised release that includes counseling or treatment.

There's certainly no reason to question the motives of federal prosecutors backing this program, but there is evidence that calls into question their judgment.

The plaintive story of the former Columbia University student came to light last June when he was interviewed by Richard Engel of NBC News.