Former Benedictine University Student Gets Prison Sentence After Trying to Join ISIS

Michelle Reilly

News Editor


A former student of Benedictine University, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, was arrested back in October of 2014 for trying to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Khan was taken into custody after allegedly attempting to travel overseas to join ISIS, according to the United States Attorney’s Office’s press release. Khan had been a student at Benedictine during the 2013-2014 school year, but was not enrolled at the time of his arrest.

Now, two years later, the verdict is in and the sentence is much shorter than anticipated. According to a report by CBS Chicago, the 21-year-old Bolingbrook native pleaded guilty to trying to join ISIS and has been sentenced to 3 years, 4 months in prison. However, with his time already served, it looks like he will be freed in time to enroll in college next fall. The judge did order that when Khan is released, he will be under supervision for 20 years.

Khan and his family told CBS they are grateful for the decision and made sure to tell the judge, FBI and other government officials that. But, the judge wanted to make sure Khan understood something.

“I hope you appreciate what happened in this case… You, who profess to regard this country as your enemy: Here you have not been treated as an enemy.”

At the time of his arrest, authorities obtained a search warrant to Khan’s residence, where they found a 3-page letter he had left for his parents before his flight, according to the release.

Khan states in the letter, “FIRST and FOREMOST, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO NOT TELL THE AUTHORITIES. For if this were to happen, it will jeopardize not only the safety of us, but our family as well. My dear parents, there are a number of reasons I will be going to the blessed land of Shaam, and leaving my home. We are all witnesses to the western societies getting more immoral day by day. I extend an invitation to my family to join me in the Islamic State.”

This portion of the note was taken for evidence, along with an ISIS flag and a calendar with drawings in support of ISIS, all of which the authorities turned over to the United States District Court. Khan was taken into custody at O’Hare International Airport and was then thought to be given a charge that could be up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, all according to the United States Attorney’s Office.