An American who grew up in Minnesota joined ISIS and was killed along with two other foreign fighters in Syria, NBC News reports, citing activists linked to the Free Syrian Army.
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, was killed in clashes between ISIS and other Syrian opposition groups. McCain, who branded himself “Duale ThaslaveofAllah” on Facebook and “Duale Khalid” on Twitter, was considered an unlikely jihadi by those who knew him.
Remembered as being affable and friendly, one former high school classmate at Robbinsdale Cooper High School, in New Hope, Minnesota, referred to McCain as a “goofball.”
However, it appears that McCain became radicalized through social media. McCain’s Twitter bio reads “Its Islam over everything,” and his most recent Twitter activity was a series of retweets in support of ISIS and jihad.
It’s funny to me how all these so call Muslim claim that they love Allah but always curse the one who try to implement his laws
— Duale Khalid (@iamthetooth) June 8, 2014
Since the spring, he started to follow a number of jihadis on Twitter, at one point retweeting an English translation of a speech given by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the ISIS spokesman.
McCain’s jihadist inspired tweets came after four-month break on Twitter. Before the break, McCain mostly tweeted about seeing friends, smoking hookah, hip-hop, and occasionally about Islam.
When life sucks I just enjoy the head
— Duale Khalid (@iamthetooth) January 25, 2013
On Facebook, McCain’s pictures featured the black flag of ISIS and an illustration stating “They are coming back, soldiers of Allah.” At the time of writing, it appeared that photos from his profile page were starting to be removed.
McCain’s Facebook photos paint a portrait of a young man who is questioningly observant, while also interested in a “gangster” lifestyle.
As time progressed through 2010, McCain posted progressively more suggestive photos of glorified violence and weaponry.
By the end of the summer of 2010, McCain was posting photos of men raising the black flag that has come to be associated with ISIS.
In January of 2013, McCain changed his profile picture to a picture of Troy Kastigar. Kastigar was a fellow Minnesotan who converted to Islam and traveled to Somalia to join an extremist group before ultimately dying in 2009. Kastigar and McCain both graduated from Robbinsdale Cooper High School and they were likely in school at the same time as each other.
McCain is not the first American to die fighting for jihadis in Syria. In May, an American from Florida became the first American suicide bomber in the conflict. In total, there may be over 100 Americans currently engaged in fighting alongside ISIS and other jihadi groups in Syria.
Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, estimates that “Syria is attracting more foreign fighters than Afghanistan did in its heyday,” in reference to the 1980 Soviet occupation that helped form the basis of al-Qaeda.
ISIS and other jihadist groups value foreign fighters for their potential symbolic and propaganda value. At press time, the State Department has not commented on the reports of McCain’s death.
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