An American In ISIS: Meet Doug McCain, One Dead Jihadist
Perhaps the only question emerging from this profile of the first document US citizen casualty fighting for the Islamic State, whose name earlier was revealed as Douglas McAuthur McCain, is whether he and John are related.
The battle in itself seemed tragically normal. Two Syrian opposition groups fought and there were heavy casualties on both sides. Then victorious rebels rifled through the pockets of the dead. One contained about $800 in cash -- and an American passport.
Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army. Photos of McCain's passport and of his body -- which feature a distinctive neck tattoo -- have been seen by NBC News. According to an activist linked to the Free Syrian Army who also saw the body and travel document, McCain was among three foreign jihadis fighting with ISIS who died during the battle.
Senior administration officials told NBC News they were aware that McCain was killed in Syria, adding that they believe dozens of Americans have gone there to fight with extremist groups - including, but not limited to, ISIS.
Actually, on second thought it appears there is no relation.
The spin cycle has already been engaged: McCain may be dead, but the treat that countless others like him have returned to the US to perpetrate, gasp, acts of terrorism on US soil is very much alive:
"The threat we are most concerned about to the homeland is that of fighters like this returning to the U.S. and committing acts of terrorism," a senior administration official told NBC News.
NBC News has contacted several members of McCain’s family and dozens of friends – including his mother, sister, aunts and cousins. A woman who said she was McCain's aunt confirmed that he had "passed" and referred calls to McCain’s mother.
McCain, 33, called himself "Duale ThaslaveofAllah" on Facebook and his Twitter bio reads: "It's Islam over everything."
After he graduated, McCain stuck around the Twin Cities for at least a while. Public records searches show several run-ins with the law. One mugshot of a Douglas McAuthur McCain details an arrest in 2000 at the age of 19 in New Hope on charges of disorderly conduct. Another arrest record – also from New Hope - shows the same man was arrested again in 2006 and booked on charges of obstruction. The mugshot from that arrest also clearly appears to be McCain – and has the same neck tattoo that is seen in Facebook photos of McCain on his "Duale ThaslaveofAllah" account - and the body found on the Syrian battlefield. NBC News confirmed on Tuesday that he was convicted of both charges.
Gradually the profile shifts to religion: "Around 2004, McCain "reverted" to Islam, according to his Twitter feed. "
McCain’s online life also painted the picture of a devout Muslim who deeply loved his family – along with Pizza Hut and hip-hop. His likes on Facebook ranged from “Quaran and Hadith” to “The Khilafah in Universe,” “A Way to Paradise” to “Craziest Street Fights,” “The American Comedy Co.” to “The Black Flag.”
“Allah keeps me going day and night. Without Allah, I am no one,” read one photo post. Others took a darker turn – posts featured the black flag of ISIS and other militant propaganda photos. In September 2010, he posted an ominous image: “They are coming back soldiers of Allah.”
A MySpace profile linked to Duale – and with the same images as elsewhere on social media – contains similar messages, with pictures of the sometime rapper striking poses. In one photo, he clutches a Quran. “The quran is all I need in this life of sin,” reads another caption.
We also learn about his exciting crusade to reach the promised Islamic land:
On April 3, McCain retweeted the full English translation of the speech of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani – the spokesman for ISIS.
Soon after, it appears that McCain’s travels took him to Turkey, a common jihadi route into Syria. Three people told NBC News that they met McCain – who they referred to as Duale – three months ago in in the Istanbul neighborhood of Sultanahmet. Two said they met him at the Burger King, where they ate and talked about the NBA.
U.S. officials have said “a small handful” of Americans are believed to be fighting with ISIS. Earlier this month, a new ISIS propaganda video claimed to feature an American citizen. And in July, chilling video emerged purporting to show the first American to carry out a suicide attack in Syria burning his U.S. passport and issuing threats against the West. The video of Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who grew up in Florida, underscored concerns about the flow of foreign fighters to Syria.
Finally NBC goes through McCain's social networking habits which readers can uncover on their own here.
So the good news: unlike in the UK, so far there are no proposals to automatically assume that anyone traveling to Syria, or Iraq, or Turkey for that matter is a terrorist.
As for the bad news: prepare to be inundated with many more such profiles, because one never knows when the "converted US Muslims" who have returned from the Islamic State, and mingle among the broader population, decide to strike. Which is why it is best to let Uncle Sam handle all of your personal security, and while at it, let's all just put that NSA "spying on everyone" nonsense in the past: after all without the constant threat that the US-created ISIS "scourge" will come to the US and blow building up and/or hijack airplanes, it may be problematic for the NSA to continue defending its ongoing existence made so public in the aftermath of the Snowden whistleblowing revelations.
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