An Islamic State soldier featured in a propaganda video beheading a Kurdish prisoner is believed to be a New Jersey high school graduate.
Zulfi Hoxha, 25, graduated from Atlantic City High School in 2010 is believed to be the soldier filmed by the terror group, The Atlantic reported.
According to reports, Hoxha’s family emigrated from Albania to the United States and have owned a pizzeria in Margate, N.J. for 20 years.
His mother, Ltefaji Hoxha, told NBC Philadelphia her son “attended a mosque where he hated people” and left the U.S. to join ISIS, adding that she was “very upset” with his actions.
She said the last time they spoke with her son was about a year ago.
The young man traveled to Syria on April 6, 2015 to an ISIS-controlled area and joined the extremist group with the help of David Daoud Wright, who was convicted in December 2018 for “ conspiring with others to provide material support to the Islamic State and kill persons in the United States,” The Atlantic reported.
Wright was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison, court documents stated.
According to reports, Hoxha now goes by Abu Hamza al-Amriki and has become a senior commander of the terror group.
Law enforcement officials told The Atlantic that Hoxha was the man seen in videos executing and beheading Kurdish soldiers taken prisoner by the extremist group. The videos showed Hoxha “calling on lone wolf terrorist to carry out attacks on targets in the United States.”
“Liberate yourself from hellfire by killing a kafir,” Hoxha was heard saying in the video.
“If they are right about his identity, Hoxha is the first American Islamic State member known to be beheading individuals in such a video,” The Atlantic reported.
Hoxha was first seen in an ISIS propaganda video in Oct. 2015 and in another in May 2017, NJ.com. The man was believed to be one of the small number of Americans to be promoted to an ISIS commanding position. It was not immediately clear why he jumped up the ranks of ISIS leadership so quickly.
Hoxha’s whereabouts and status are currently unknown. FBI officials refused to comment if there was an investigation into Hoxha and his alleged ISIS ties.