Two American citizens have now been killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. The first was the improbably-named Douglas McAuthur McCain, born in Chicago, raised in Minneapolis, and late of San Diego until he signed up with Team Evil. He got his ticket punched by the Free Syrian Army, the “moderate” rebels we’re apparently counting on to put that whole “rebellion” thing behind them and fight ISIS alongside the dictator they were rebelling against, mercurial ophthalmologist and freshly minted U.S. Partner-in-Peace Bashar Assad. The Free Syrian Army is quite willing to trade shots with ISIS. They were surprised to find an American passport and eight hundred bucks in cash on the body of one ISIS foot soldier.
International Business Times offers a profile of the American jihadi:
McCain was active on social media, where he went by the name “Duale Khalid”on Twitter and “Duale ThaslaveofAllah” on Facebook. His Twitter bio reads “It’s Islam over everything,” and a tweet from May 14 says he “reverted to Islam to 10 years ago” and called it “the best thing that ever happen [sic] to me.”
On June 26, he retweeted a tweet that in part said “pray for ISIS.” [Editorial note – In fact, the full message reads: “It takes a warrior to understand a warrior. Pray for ISIS.” Not sure why IBT thought the first part was not relevant.]
McCain’s Facebook bio says he was born in Chicago, lived in San Diego and studied at San Diego City College. NBC News said he moved from Chicago to Minnesota before moving again to California after high school.
Those who knew McCain said he was an aspiring rapper, and classmates from Robbbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minnesota, said he was “always smiling” and liked to joke and play basketball.
“He was a goofball in high school,” an unnamed classmate said. “Doug was a fun guy to be around. Played basketball, joked a lot, had a small sense of humor. Got along with most … Wasn’t the best athlete, but liked to play.”
McCain went to great lengths to be recognized for his rapping, including performing at an underground rap show near Stockholm. Kevin Törnström Kohlin, one of the Swedes McCain met on the trip, said he talked about religion with McCain and “he respected my Christianity.”
And wound up dying on behalf of a group that oppresses and crucifies Christians. That’s an alarming philosophical devolution, especially since he isn’t making it alone. IBT mentions 15 Somali-Americans from the Minnesota area who are believed to have joined ISIS. Senior U.S. officials told the Washington Times they believe up to 300 Americans are currently under arms for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and are “poised to become a major threat to the homeland” when they bring their military experienced, moneyed ISIS connections, and enhanced radicalism home. This leads one to wonder how many American ISIS recruits didn’t head overseas to fight on the front lines in Iraq and Syria.
The Washington Post emphasizes how alarmingly ordinary McCain’s childhood was:
His early life was one slice of Americana after another: He followed the Chicago Bulls, was a fan of Michael Jordan, watched “The Simpsons” and developed an affinity for Pizza Hut. After moving to the Minneapolis area as a boy, he played basketball in high school, though classmates tell reporters he wasn’t any good. Between 1997 and 2000, he attended two different high schools in the Robbinsdale Area School District, though the New York Times says district records don’t show him graduating from either school.
There were some warning signs of trouble to come, however, as he accumulated a bit of a police record once he got to high school:
Over the next eight years, he amassed nine misdemeanor convictions, according to Minnesota state court records. Problems began with a 2000 conviction for disorderly conduct. Then, in 2001, he was busted for misdemeanor theft. Two years later came a misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession — his first of two minor busts for that offense. His driver’s license was eventually revoked, but McCain kept driving and got caught for that, too.
According to the address listed on his Minnesota driver’s license, he lived on a suburban, tree-lined, road called Oregon Avenue in the town of New Hope just outside Minneapolis. It’s unclear when he left Minnesota — or why — but he eventually resettled in San Diego, where a search of court records reveals he had no further run-ins with the law.
The authorities have not yet figured out who radicalized him or connected him with ISIS, but here are some disturbing observations from the WaPo story about the sort of Westerners who might be interested in joining a band of medieval thugs:
Though every Western foreign fighter leaves for Syria for different reasons, McCain’s early life carries themes found among other foreign militants. They often operate somewhere on the fringes of society and feel excluded, wrote expert Richard Barrett of the Soufan Group. “The French authorities categorize volunteers from France as disaffected, aimless and lacking a sense of identity or belonging,” Barrett wrote in his report. “This appears to be common across most nationalities and fits with the high number of converts, presumably people who are seeking a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.”
Which makes it more unfortunate than ever that we have a deliberately alienated culture among minority youth, nourished by professional agitators who reap financial and political benefits from teaching kids to believe they have no place in a society that hates them, preys upon them, and even hunts them for sport. Combine that with a government that encourages aimless dependency, and you’ve got fertile recruiting ground for the likes of ISIS. There is still much bitter fruit to be harvested from the irresponsible words and deeds of certain “community leaders.” When official and cultural systems thwart the natural ambitions of young men and deprive them of constructive ways to build self-respect, they seek that respect from alternative venues, such as groups that promise to make them feel like “warriors.”
Once settled in San Diego, McCain began working for a now-defunct Somali restaurant called African Spice in City Heights, the Union-Tribunereported. One woman interviewed by the paper recalled McCain was friends with the Somali owners. “They used to stand outside and smoke cigarettes,” she explained, requesting anonymity. “He wasn’t even very religious. He was just a regular American kid.”
But his social media soon suggested otherwise. His tenure on Twitter began innocuously with a late 2012 dispatch: “I’m not feelin this Twitter sh– … wallahi I wants fried chicken. … Watching the Help starting to make me hate white people. … Ok its official f— white people.” He spoke of smoking hookah, watching National Geographic, his Somali friends and his growing religious zeal.
That’s an “innocuous” message, in the estimation of the Washington Post? Wow.
It’s now being reported that a second American died fighting for ISIS in the same battle that killed McCain. The new volunteer auxiliary savage has been identified as Abdirahmaan Muhumed of Minneapolis, evidently one of the Somali-American recruits from Minnesota mentioned by International Business Times. Fox News reports that his family has been sent a photo of his remains, but has not been formally notified of his death by the State Department.
Fox links to a Minnesota Public Radio profile of Muhumed from last June:
“A Muslim has to stand up for [what’s] right,” Muhumed, 29, wrote in a Jan. 2 post. “I give up this worldly life for Allah.”
Muhumed, who claims he wants to save the global Muslim community, said if that causes others to consider him a terrorist, he is “happy with it.” He asked Allah to forgive him and to “make my mom strong for the decision that I made.”
[…] For some in Minnesota’s Somali-American community, Muhumed’s journey from shooting hoops at the basketball court and pumping iron at a gym in Uptown Minneapolis to fighting alongside jihadists in Syria is seen as a manifestation of an ongoing recruitment and radicalization in Minnesota’s Somali community.
“Most of [those who left] don’t have the resources to even buy a ticket to go to Chicago. So that means there is some influential individuals who are taking advantage of our youth,” said Mohamud Noor, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota. “So it’s up to us to defend ourselves. This is not only a fight for our youth. It is a fight for our future.”
As with McCain, Muhumed’s embrace of black-flag Islamism is said to have come as a surprise to those who knew him, which is not at all comforting to know.
The sudden shift to radicalism by Muhumed, whom friends know as Abdifatah Afweyne, was “very unpredictable,” said Abdinasir Mohamed.
Mohamed was shocked when he saw Muhumed’s photos on Facebook, in which he is carrying guns and wearing military uniforms.
“It was really hard for me to believe because the guy seemed he was busy with his own life, trying to make it,” said Mohamed, who described his friend as humble. “And [for] him to leave his family and kids, and just go to the other side of the world, that was really surprising to me. I’ve not really expected him to do that type of move.”
Muhamed hit the usual terror-tourist itinerary upon arriving in Syria: posing with Korans and military weapons, praising the return of the Caliphate, posting photos of severed heads on Facebook. His friends seem truly astonished by all this, and made an effort to talk him out of it online:
“Abdi, my brother, you are wrong. You should not have done this,” one of his friends wrote in Somali on Muhumed’s Facebook page.
“Come [back], uncle,” another friend commented. “This feels so wrong…don’t u get it.”
Many friends said they are perplexed at why Muhumed went to Syria, which in their view is not a pressing concern to many Somalis who are more concerned about what’s happening in their home country, Somalia.
I can probably help you understand that, guys. It looks like the Somali branch of Islamic fascism, al-Shabab, is lining up with ISIS. Somali recruits now get to die in Iraq and Syria, fighting on behalf of genocide, instead of dying in Somalia. Given the past success enjoyed by al-Shabab in recruiting from Somalis living in the West, that’s cause for deep concern.
Also concerning: Fox News mentions that the new jihadis aren’t just recruiting men.
Abdi Bihi, a leader in the Twin Cities’ Somalian community, told KMSP that ISIS has recently begun trying to recruit young women from the Twin Cities to their cause.
“They are brainwashing them to marry them off to jihadists,” he said. “They call them to help out as nurses, help out the wounded — but the real catch is they will be sexually exploited.”
While the jihadists may see fighting as a path to paradise, Bihi said the only thing young people who take that path will face is disappointment, possibly even death.
“What will not change is the pain and agony and suffering of the parents,” he lamented.
Not to mention the pain and agony they inflict on anyone who crosses the path of their Islamic State caliphate. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is pushing for the formal categorization of American citizens who join ISIS as “enemy combatants” subject to “capture or death,” arguing that a strong message must be sent to potential recruits in the U.S. that signing on with the head-choppers is not cool. Why is that something anyone would have to push for, or argue about? And what sort of deranged lunatic would suggest that any of the Americans who journeyed to Syria or Iraq for the purposes of fighting alongside ISIS should ever be allowed back into the United States?