The Islamic State claimed that an American executed a suicide attack against Iraqi troops and Iranian-backed Shiite militias as they massed in the central city of Samarra in preparation for a newly launched offensive in Tikrit.
The jihadist group released an image of Abu Dawoud al Amriki (the American) on Twitter on March 2 and stated he detonated a vehicle packed with explosives against the Iraqi troops and Shiite militias that were gathered outside of Samarra, “killing and wounding dozens,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Today, the Islamic State repeated the claim in a “bulletin item in the al-Bayan Radio broadcast.”
A video (embedded below) that purports to show Abu Dawoud’s suicide attack has been distributed by Islamic State fighters on social media sites. However, the video has not been published by official Islamic State media outlets. In the video, which was shot on a cell phone, an Iraqi military and Shiite militia convoy is traveling on a road when an armored vehicle is engulfed in a massive detonation.
The true identity of Abu Dawoud al Amriki, which is a nom de guerre, has not been disclosed by the Islamic State. US government officials have not confirmed that an American executed a suicide attack in Iraq.
If confirmed, Abu Dawoud al Amriki would be the first American citizen to have launched a suicide attack with the Islamic State in Iraq. Suicide bombers from Western countries such as France, Germany and Denmark have carried out attacks for the jihadist group in Iraq. Additionally, the Islamic State has touted suicide attacks by fighters from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Russia.
Another American, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who was also known as Abu Hurayra al Amriki, carried out a suicide attack in Syria last year. Abusalha, who was from Florida, carried out his attack for the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria that is a rival to the Islamic State. He rammed a truck packed with 16 tons of explosives into a Syrian military position as part of a coordinated assault. [See LWJ report, US officials have identified American suicide bomber in Syria.]
The US government has identified the Islamic State’s “emir of suicide bombers” as Tariq Bin Al Tahar Bin Al Falih Al ‘Awni Al Harzi. In September 2014, the US State Department listed Harzi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and said he “facilitated the movement of Europeans to Turkey, and eventually Syria.” Al Harzi has helped fighters from countries such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Albania, and North Africa enter Iraq and Syria to wage jihad.
The presence of Westerners fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State, the Al Nusrah Fornt, or other jihadist groups operating in Iraq and Syria is a major source of concern for intelligence officials. It is feared that fighters who return home will plot to execute attacks, or radicalize others. Just yesterday, James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, said that an estimated 180 Americans “have traveled to Syria to join Islamist militants and around 40 of them have returned to the United States,” Reuters reported.