An Al Qaeda-linked group engaged in jihad in Syria claimed this week that an American known as Abu Hurayra Al Amriki – reputedly from South Florida — drove a truck carrying 16 tons of explosives into a Syrian army stronghold near Idlib where he detonated the massive bomb.
A video was posted by Jabhat Al Nusra, a group tied to Al Qaeda, On May 27 claiming responsibility for a series of suicide bombings on May 25. Jabhat Al Nusra media activists on social networks circulated the following photo of Abu Hurayra, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). No further details about the American’s identity were provided.
The young man is believed to be the first known American suicide bomber in Syria, although counterterrorism authorities have long known that numerous jihadi radicalized Americans, including members of American gangs, have traveled to Syria to join the jihad against the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad.
Earlier this month, The Al Qaeda affiliated media company, Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), released a promotional video for what it said was an upcoming release of a video it called, "The Story of an American Muhajir [Foreign Fighter] in Sham [Syria].”
MEMRI, which discovered the GIMF video promo, said the trailer showed a jihadi fighter whose face is blurred wearing a vest bearing the Jabhat Al Nusra logo who said in English, "Jihad is protecting Islam, it is [a] haqq [right] on you to protect your brothers and [the] oppressed, it is [a] haqq on you to fight."
“This is unique – there haven’t been many Americans (besides a few minor individuals) fighting there,” MEMRI Executive Director Steve Stalinsky told Homeland Security Today.
The GIMF report was “heavily promoted on all the jihadi forums and social media,” Stalinsky said.
On May 12, the Global Islamic Media Front announced on the Al Fida’ jihadi forum that a "big surprise," was forthcoming, Stalinsky added. “The announcement didn’t include any information regarding GIMF’s ‘surprise,’ however, it included a banner with a burning American flag,” he said.
That same week, the Somalia-based Al Qaeda affiliated jihadi group Al Shabab Al Mujahideen’s media wing, Al Kataib Foundation, released a video calling for Muslims living in the West to engage in suicide bombings.
"It should be pointed out that Al Shabaab is very active in its propaganda and recruitment efforts on social media; in addition, over the past year it has released multiple videos aimed at Somali youth abroad, particularly in the West, stressing lone-wolf attacks,” Stalinsky said. “The latest video specifically addresses Somalis in Minnesota.”
Stalinsky said “Al Shabaab has been successful in its efforts to recruit Westerners from the US, Canada and the UK to come fight for their cause in Somalia. However, up until now, what they are calling for now, and have been calling for in the past year — that is, attacks in the West — have not been carried out.”
“Al Shabaab is promoting and following the message of Al Qaeda Central, which emphasizes lone-wolf attacks, as announced in the June 3, 2011 video by Adam Gadahn titled, ‘Do Not Rely on Others, Take [the Task] Upon Yourself,’ and vigorously promoted by Inspire magazine,” Stalinsky said.
Referring to an American in Somalia who has boasted of his jihad on social media, Stalinsky said, “Many foreign fighters engaged in fighting on jihadi fronts are using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to chronicle their experiences and to create contacts with like-minded enthusiasts.”
He pointed to a young American in Somalia who uses the online alias, Mujahid Miski. All of the information in this profile is taken from his Twitter (@Muhammad_Miski), Facebook (Facebook.com/mujahid.miski.10), and Ask.Fm (Ask.fm/Muhammad_Miski) accounts, “which are in English peppered with Arabic terms and expressions.”
According to his Facebook page, MEMRI reported in a profile of Miski, he hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota and alleges to have attended Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington.
“At some point after his studies,” MEMRI said, “he claims to have lived in Lahore, Pakistan. His Facebook does not mention being in Somalia, but his Twitter account does. His Facebook posts consist mainly of sharing statuses and photos, and features little original content. He ‘likes’ the ex-rapper and German ISIS fighter in Syria Denis Cuspert (aka Abu Talha Al Almani, aka Deso Dogg), and several Syria-related pages such as ‘Jihad in the Land of Shaam,’ ‘Shaam Al Malaahim,’ and ‘Rayat Al Taweed’(the last being a media group founded by British ISIS fighters). On his Twitter account, Miski has the following heading: ‘Just a weak Muhajir from America who strives to Achieve Shahadah and to raise up the Black Banner. Bilaad Al Hijratain. This indicates his origin (in the US) and current location in Somalia, which is called ‘Bilaad Al Hijratain (Land of the Two Migrations).”
All quotations by Miski preserve the original language, spelling, punctuation, etc.
In a tweet dated February 14, 2014, he said, "I fight for Allah and yea [I am in] Al Qaeda …"
On May 13, Miski posted a tweet recommending a jihadi video conveying a message to Muslims in the West: "Asalamu Aliakum brothers & Sisters make Sure you watch the New Film from Al Kata’ib Named Mujahideen Moments 5. It’s a Message to the Muslims in The west in general & those in America specifically in the Twin Cities in particular."
The following day, MEMRI said, Miski pinned a tweet to his profile linking to the YouTube video and stating: "Watch A Message to the Muslims in the west in general and the Twin Cities, America in Particular. Mujahideen Moments 5.”
Miski also repeatedly tweets his support for the jihadi fighters in Syria, and enthusiastically follows events there. He stated his feelings regarding jihad and the ummah on January 29th when he said, "My Heart is in Sham, my eyes are in Aqsa and My Soul is in Somalia."
According to MEMRI, “He also has some Twitter exchanges with Western fighters currently located in Syria. On February 7, he corresponded with British ISIS fighter Abu Qa’qaa’ (@Abu_Qaqa_), cautioning him: ‘don’t listen to no Madkhali [i.e., member of the moderate Salafi Madkhali stream] and do not consult anyone in Making Hijrah even if he’s in the land of Jihad.’”
Miski mentioned the Somali mujahideen’s strong identification with and admiration for their Syrian brothers when he tweeted: "May Allah protect you brothers, Wallahi us brothers in Somalia look up to you brothers." A British fighter in Syria, Abu Abdullah (@Al_Brittani_) responded, saying, "as salaamu alaikum brother wallah may Allah unite one day … brother trust me we have it easy here u guys r true." To which Miski replied: "Ameen akhi wallahi we love you for the sake of Allah, and if we had the chance we’d be with you without a doubt."
On a few occasions the topic of Boko Haram was broached on Miski’s Ask.Fm account, MEMRI reported. “One user, shocked by the group’s recent kidnapping of some 300 schoolgirls, most of whom were Christian, wrote: ‘What is the difference from an Islamic point of view if he abducted non-believer women? Don’t non believer women and little girls deserve to not be kidnapped and sold into slavery just as Muslim girls don’t? what’s the difference, it’s horrible whether the girl is muslim or non muslim right?’”
Miski disturbingly responded: "There is a big difference, The Muslim women have right[s] and the disbelieving women of today have none. I say that because today the disbelievers are all MUHARIBEEN as in they are in combat. If not with the Gun then with the financial and the Ideas. The brothers in Nigeria did a great job if they Abducted only Disbelieving women. There is one time that the disbelievers have rights and that’s when they live under the Islamic Rule and they pay the Taxes to the Islamic Administration and we don’t see that today."
In March, MEMRI further revealed that videos and images surfaced showing members of Los Angeles gangs fighting in Syria alongside Hizbollah and pro-Assad forces. Two gang members, one who goes by Creeper from the G’d Up-13 gang and one who goes by Wino from the Westside Armenian Power gang, filmed themselves shooting AK-47s and boasting of being on the “front lines.” Wino, whose real name is Nerses Kilajyan, aka Wino Ayee Peeyakan, uploaded the images and videos onto his Facebook profile.
“Wino posted multiple photos of himself to his Facebook profile showing him brandishing weapons,” MEMRI said. “In one photo, he is seen standing beside a Hizbollah operative. In another photo, Wino is seen wearing the Hizbollah garb himself. Creeper can be seen alongside Wino in multipule photos and videos posted on the latter’s Facebook page.”
MEMRI said that “Judging by the photos on his Facebook page, it seems that Wino has been fighting in Syria since December 2012.”
Comments by Wino’s Facebook friends suggested that the two were deported from the US due to their involvement in criminal activity, although that hasn’t been confirmed.
Homeland Security Today reported in the August 2009 cover report, “Unholy Trinity,” that an alliance of Central and South American jihadist agents had joined forces with Mexico-based Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) and the ruthless Latino street gangs that work for the cartels, increasing numbers of whom intelligence showed in a Pentagon-commissioned report have been converting to radical Islam.
According to the report, two Central American-based gangs who’ve served as TCO “street enforcers” were found to be collaborating to smuggle into the US what the report termed “Persons of Interest of Islamic Origin” (PIIOs). These PIIOs were identified as “high value” operatives for a variety of Middle East-based and other jihadist terror organizations — including Al Qaeda — who “are of extreme interest to US defense and intelligence officials.” Members of the savage MS-13 and M-18 Latino gangs, especially those determined to have become converted, radicalized Muslims, serve as the PIIOs’ “transportation security” as they move PIIOs throughout the region via sophisticated smuggling operations ran by radical Muslim businessmen who’ve long supplied smuggling and other logistics for TCOs.
MEMRI also recently reported that, “In perhaps the first incident of its kind,” a Maldivian national identified as 44-year-old Abu Turab “was among several jihadi fighters killed in a suicide bombing they carried out against … Syrian troops, according to a Maldivian newspaper.”
Abu Turab may not be a real name, as most jihadis use adopted historical Islamic names.
"One picture posted by the group allegedly shows the man bidding farewell to other militants on top of a tanker, which the group claims was loaded with 6 tons of explosives about to be driven into a target, killing all those inside," the report noted.
A second picture depicted the man identified as a Maldivian sitting around a gun with three other armed militants from America, Syria and Central Asia.
MEMRI said “A spokesman for the Maldives National Defense Force said that they were unaware of such an incident or of any Maldivians leaving to fight in Syria. In October 2013, local media in the Maldives reported that two Maldivian men, aged 25 and 35 years, were apprehended at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on suspicion that they were leaving to join the Syrian civil war.”
According to the report, Abu Turab was killed in a joint operation by Jabhat Al Nusra (with whom Turab was operating) and the Islamic Front, targeting soldiers loyal to Bashar Al Assad on Mount Arbain in the northwestern city of Edlib. Turab’s vehicle was one of four vehicles packed with explosives used in the attack.
The news about Turab was released by the jihadi media group, Bilad Al Sham Media (BASM), which noted that the Maldivian bomber entered Syria after a "long tiring journey" but remained fasting and spent months in the mountains before the attack. "BASM tweets were responded to by Sheikh Abu Sulayman Al Australi (an Australian preacher) who said that ‘Maldivians are some of the most courageous and well-mannered Mujahideen,’" the report noted. The preacher is a member of the Shariah Council of Jabhat Al Nusra.
According to the Maldivian newspaper, MEMRI repored, “the BASM has uploaded a number of religious lectures and songs to their YouTube page, including ones by Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri and Maldivian members who are said to be fighting in Syria. One video, titled , ‘The Obligation Of Jihad,’ shows a masked man dressed in black holding a rifle while preaching in the Dhivehi language of the Maldives.”
“The Maldives is even today being ruled by unbelievers, and if they are unbelievers we have to wage war against them," the preacher said in the video, which was uploaded in December 2013.
Sri Lankan terrorism expert Dr. Rohan Gunaratna suggested that terror cells have been established in the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India which pose a "severe threat" to the South Asia region. Gunaratna’s comment came on the heels of the arrest of Sri Lankan national Zakir Hussain in the Indian city of Chennai. Hussain was linked to a terror plot involving the reconnaissance of the US and Israeli consulates in Chennai and Bangalore.