State Dept Refuses To Say Whether American Muslim Who Lived In ISIS-Controlled Territory Is Still In Turkish Custody

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The Department of State has refused to divulge any information on whether the American Muslim who reportedly joined the Islamic State and was captured by Turkey is still in Turkish custody.

In late April, Kary Paul Kleman, an American citizen, surrendered to Turkish authorities while crossing over the border with his wife and three children after living for more than two years in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. What’s happened to him since is an unknown and the State Department wants to remain mum on the matter.

“We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was detained while attempting to cross the Turkish border from Syria,” a State Department spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”

A senior Turkish official told CNN in April that Kleman was detained by Turkish authorities.

“Our initial assessment is that he along with his family members was compelled to escape the conflict zone following airstrikes and military operations against ISIS,” the senior Turkish official told CNN.

At the time, a U.S. official confirmed to CNN that the arrest did occur, but was otherwise quiet on the details. The Guardian was the first to report Kleman’s capture and noted he is a long-time resident of Jacksonville, Fla.

After divorcing his first wife, Kleman converted to Islam and moved to the Middle East in 2011, Kleman’s mother said. He married a local woman in Egypt that same year. That marriage soon fell apart, and he moved to Dubai, where he married a Syrian woman — the same woman he was arrested with in April.

Kleman’s family told The Guardian that he had traveled to Syria in 2015 for humanitarian reasons. His mother said Kleman later stated that the information he was given to induce him to move to Syria “was all a scam.” What that information was or who gave it to him is unclear.

Apparently, Kleman had been in contact with U.S. officials and planned to travel to the U.S. embassy in Turkey before moving back to America.

His family reached out to the FBI around October 2015, at which point the bureau informed family members it needed to check if Kleman had been involved in any nefarious activities.

The practice of foreign ISIS members traveling to Syria and Iraq and then trying to return by contacting their respective embassies is a common practice, though it is not confirmed whether Kleman was an ISIS operative.

A smuggler who managed to get Kleman out of Syria told CNN that although Kleman decided to live in territory ISIS-controlled territory, he never pledged allegiance to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and was never a fighter.

The Turkish embassy did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF.

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