Continued Concerns Over Wave Of Americans Fighting In Syria » ADL Blogs
Latest Developments and Trends in Extremism & Terrorism
November 21, 2013

Continued Concerns Over Wave Of Americans Fighting In Syria

eric-harroun-jabhat-al-nusrah-syria

Eric Harroun was indicted on charges of con­spir­acy to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port to a for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion.

Update – 11/22/13: An Eng­lish lan­guage video glo­ri­fy­ing Islamist rebel groups in Syria and appar­ently fea­tur­ing an Amer­i­can was released ear­lier this month by The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an Al Qaeda affil­i­ate fight­ing in Syria.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday said that “dozens” of Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to fight against the Assad regime.

ADL released a report in June highlighting the increasing numbers of American cit­i­zens drawn to the conflict in Syria and joining terrorist groups. As noted in the report, since 2007, over 50 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been charged in con­nec­tion with attempts to join ter­ror­ist groups abroad, includ­ing Al Shabaab in Somalia and Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula in Yemen, as well as Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.

Details of six cases in which Americans joined or attempted to join the conflict in Syria have been made public in 2013. Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen of California, Amir Farouk Ibrahim of Pennsylvania, and Nicole Mansfield of Michigan all successfully joined the conflict. Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Illinois and Basit Javed Sheikh of North Carolina attempted to join but were arrested en route. In addition, Eric Har­roun of Arizona pleaded guilty to non-terror-related charges in September, 2013, and was sentenced to time served. That Harroun fought in Syria is uncontested; however, reports differ as to whether he fought with Jabhat al Nusra.

The  number of Americans attempting to travel abroad to train and fight with terrorist groups continues to raise serious concerns about extremists using their American passports to return to the U.S. in order to carry out attacks on U.S. soil.

Syr­ian rebel groups, includ­ing the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, have cre­ated social media space and propa­ganda to raise aware­ness, sup­port and poten­tial recruits for their cause in the Englishspeaking world. These include the exploita­tion of Face­book, blogs, Twit­ter and other platforms.