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November 21, 2013 0

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 Eng­lish-speak­ing world. These include the exploita­tion of Face­book, blogs, Twit­ter and other platforms.

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