A propaganda video in which an Islamic State soldier is shown beheading a Kurdish prisoner has a scary twist: the ISIS fighter in the video is believed to be a New Jersey high school graduate named Zulfi Hoxha.
Hoxha, 25, graduated from Atlantic City High School in 2010 and is believed to be the soldier filmed by the terror group, The Atlantic reported. The young man’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 that Hoxha “attended a mosque where he hated people” and left the U.S. to join ISIS. She said she was “very upset” with his actions and hasn’t spoken to him in about a year.
Hoxha went 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.
According to court documents, Wright was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison, but Hoxha has risen in ISIS’ ranks. He now goes by the name Abu Hamza al-Amriki and is a senior commander of the terror group.
Law enforcement officials confirmed 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.”
He was heard in the video saying, “Liberate yourself from hellfire by killing a kafir.”
Hoxha may well be the first American ISIS fighter known to be beheading individuals in a propaganda video, if officials are correct about his identity as the feared Abu Hamza al-Amriki.
Hoxha was first seen in an ISIS propaganda video in Oct. 2015 and in another in May 2017, according to a report in Fox News.
Hoxha’s whereabouts and status are currently unknown.
Political activist Pamela Geller tweeted a statement that Hoxha was part of a plot which threatened her personally. “Top ISIS leader is American, Zulfi Hoxha, who was in contact with Boston jihadis plotting to behead Pamela Geller: While Rahim, Wright, and Rovinski were undoubtedly amateurs, we now know that they formed part of a wider network that was in communication… ” Geller tweeted.
There was a terrorism trial in Massachusetts that we covered. Throughout it, the name Zulfi Hoxha kept coming up.
— Seamus Hughes (@SeamusHughes) January 13, 2018
— Program On Extremism (@gwupoe) January 14, 2018
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) January 19, 2018
Top ISIS leader is American, Zulfi Hoxha, who was in contact with Boston jihadis plotting to behead Pamela Geller: While Rahim, Wright, and Rovinski were undoubtedly amateurs, we now know that they formed part of a wider network that was in communication… https://t.co/hJ7giZ00jU pic.twitter.com/ha9kD6LDSt
— Pamela Geller (@GellerReport) January 19, 2018
Zulfi Hoxha often wore a shirt to school that said “9-11 was an inside job,” a friend recalls. “Truthers are perfect game for (ISIS),” source tells me… https://t.co/FjiAmr0MOK
— Lynda Cohen (@LyndaCohen) January 17, 2018
My @NPRKelly interview on Zulfi Hoxha. I talked with his high school friends today that said it was an “open secret” in his small New Jersey town that he joined the Islamic State. @npratc https://t.co/80rvSwZOK4
— Seamus Hughes (@SeamusHughes) January 17, 2018
A two-year investigation identifies one of the very few Americans in the Islamic State’s upper ranks—and sheds light on the dynamics of radicalization > https://t.co/YpCiryPqet
— Oren Segal (@orensegal) January 13, 2018