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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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October 15, 2013 1

California Arrest Underscores Ongoing Concern Over Americans Joining Al Qaeda Abroad

Update — Octo­ber 18, 2013: Arrest in Long Island high­lights con­tin­u­ing lure of ter­ror groups abroad.

An Orange County man was arrested on Fri­day for allegedly pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to Al Qaeda. The arrest under­scores ongo­ing con­cerns over Amer­i­can cit­i­zens join­ing ter­ror­ist groups abroad and Syria in particular.sinh-vinh-ngo-nguyen-hasan-abu-omar-ghannoum

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghan­noum, report­edly trav­eled to Syria in Decem­ber, 2012, and fought against the Assad regime. While the indict­ment against Nguyen does not spe­cially men­tion his travel to Syria, he report­edly left com­ments on what appears to be his Face­book page indi­cat­ing his pres­ence in the coun­try between Decem­ber 2012 and April or May 2013.

I’m doing well in Syria…having a blast here, and I mean lit­er­ally” read one com­ment. In another, Nguyen appar­ently “con­firmed his first kill” and expressed eager­ness for more. In April, he posted an image of a dead fighter whom he called “A Dear Brother of mine.”

Nguyen, who report­edly returned to the U.S around May 2013, was arrested while attempt­ing to board a bus to Mex­ico. He is charged with attempt­ing “to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port and resources, that is, ser­vices and per­son­nel, namely him­self,” to al Qaeda, as well as mak­ing false state­ments on a pass­port appli­ca­tion. It is not clear why he planned to travel to Mexico.

Since 2007, over 50 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been arrested or charged in con­nec­tion with attempts to join ter­ror­ist groups abroad, includ­ing Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula. An increas­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans have been attracted to the con­flict in Syria and have attempted to join Jab­hat al-Nusrah, an alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Nguyen, a Mus­lim con­vert, is licensed as a secu­rity guard and was train­ing to be a truck dri­ver. His pur­ported Face­book page indi­cates strong inter­est in weapons, includ­ing posts about his favorite weapons and an image of a “com­mando style” rifle that served as his Face­book pro­file pic­ture last winter.

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