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May 28, 2014

Reports Of American Suicide Bomber In Syria

Update — 5/29/2014: U.S. officials have confirmed that the suicide bombing was conducted by an American citizen who grew up in Florida.

News that an American may have been one of four suicide bombers involved in an attack in Syria on May 25 conducted by Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), Al Qaeda in Syria, has been circulated by various extremists on social media over the past two days.syria-abu-hurayra-al-amriki-suicide-bomber

If accurate, the attack further indicates the integration of foreign fighters, and specifically Westerners, with terrorist organizations in Syria.

Abu Hurayra Al Amriki would be at least the fourth American rumored to have been killed while fighting in Syria, joining Nicole Mansfield, Amiir Farouk Ibrahim and a man identified as Abu Dujana al Amriki. An apparent image of Abu Hurayra Al Amriki holding a cat and juxtaposed to images of the bombing was shared by several JN supports on Twitter.

He would also be at least the fourth known American to have successfully undertaken a suicide bombing on behalf of an Al Qaeda linked terrorist organization. The other three, Shirwa Ahmed, Farah Mohamad Beledi and  Abisdalan Hussein Ali, were among a wave of Americans who joined Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda in Somalia, primarily between 2007 and 2012.

The U.S. State Department’s “Think Again, Turn Away” account on Twitter, which aims to counter terrorist sentiments online, Tweeted: “another life wasted by #alqaeda’s cult of death. Thanks to them #Assad remains in power while Syrians suffer.” U.S. officials, however, have not confirmed whether or not an American was actually involved in the attack.

Two other Americans, Nicholas Teausant and U.S. legal permanent resident Mohamad Hassan Hamdan, are known to have attempted to travel to Syria to fight alongside terrorist organizations this year. There were several other Americans publically identified who joined or attempted to join the conflict in 2013.

Concerns over Americans fighting in Syria have been increasing since the start of the conflict, with “dozens” believed to have travelled there thus far according to U.S. intelligence officials. Last week, the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor to investigate individuals travelling to Syria, and they have long been the subject of high levels of scrutiny by law enforcement.

Although casualty counts were unavailable as of this writing, the suicide attack reportedly killed or wounded “dozens” of Syrian troops. The attack had been directed at Syrian army positions in the Idlib province of Syria.

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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.

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July 31, 2013

Pittsburgh Man Drawn To Syrian Front Underscores Emerging Trend

amiir-farouk ibrahim-passport-syria

Amiir Farouk Ibrahim’s passport

An Egyptian-American man born in Pittsburgh is reportedly the latest American to join the conflict in Syria on the side of rebels fight­ing against the Assad regime.

Amiir Farouk Ibrahim may also be the latest American casualty.

Ibrahim’s American and Egyptian passports were discovered earlier this month after Kurdish fighters overran a compound once held by the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization composed of several Sunni insurgency groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.

If dead, Ibrahim would be the second American known to have been killed in Syria’s civil war. Nicole Mans­field, a con­vert to Islam from Michi­gan, was killed in Syria in May 2013.

Ibrahim’s family reportedly indicated that he traveled to Turkey before crossing into Syria earlier this year. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida International University in 2008.

Ibrahim’s Facebook page contained numerous posts suggesting that he subscribed to a radical interpretation of Islam consistent with Al Qaeda’s ideology. For example:

  • February 1: Ibrahim posted an image calling for a boycott of French products because of the French military campaign against Al Qaeda in Mali.
  • January 30: Ibrahim posted several photos of a house on an island with the caption, “So you can imagine how paradise would look like.” He posted a comment on one of the photos asking God to make him “one of the people of Paradise.”
  • January 30: Ibrahim posted a photo for Mohammed Bouyeri, the Dutch–Moroccan convicted of killing Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. The comment on the post reads in part, “The lion Mohammed Bouyeri (May God release him from his prison) did an operation that will be recorded with gold in the history of Islam.”
  • December 2, 2012:  Ibrahim posted a YouTube video that features the popular jihadi song “Madin Kas-Sayf” [Sharp like the Sword].
  • October 18, 2012: Ibrahim posted a comment calling upon Muslims to embrace Jihad and support the Sunni Muslims in Syria against the Shia’a.

As ADL reported in June, there have been three other pub­licly dis­closed cases of Amer­i­cans involved in fight­ing with rebels. Each has been linked to Jab­hat al-Nusrah (JN), a State Department-designated alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq. It is unknown how many Amer­i­cans have entered the con­flict on the side of rebel fac­tions unaf­fil­i­ated with Al Qaeda.

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