American took part in suicide bombings, Al Nusrah Front sharia official says

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An American was one of four suicide bombers who took part in a recent coordinated assault in Syria, according to an Al Nusrah Front sharia official who is active on Twitter.

On May 25, the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, announced that the joint attacks had been launched in conjunction with another rebel group, Suqour al Sham. A rumor circulated on Twitter that one of the four suicide bombers was an American, but there was no official confirmation from either of the groups responsible for the attacks.

In an update earlier today, Abu Sulayman al Muhajir tweeted the picture above and gave the jihadist’s name as “Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki,” meaning “the American.” The accompanying text reads, “Performed a martydom operation in Idlib, Jabal Al-Arba’een. May Allah accept him.”

Abu Sulayman would presumably be in a position to know the assailant’s nationality and identity. He became one of the top sharia officials in the Al Nusrah Front after relocating from Australia to Syria last year. Prior to his move, Abu Sulayman became well known for his attempts to drum up support for the jihad in Syria. In a video released by the Al Nusrah Front in mid-April, Abu Sulayman displayed knowledge of al Qaeda’s inner workings and organizational structure.

Still, American officials contacted by The Long War Journal have not confirmed the bomber’s identity. If he is in fact an American, then the attack in Idlib is the first known instance in which a jihadist recruit from the US took part in a suicide operation in Syria.

Pictures and videos from the coordinated suicide bombings have been promoted by a Twitter feed maintained by the Al Nusrah Front in Idlib, Syria. The video below, posted by the Al Nusrah Front on May 25, appears to show the truck driven by Abu Hurayra being loaded with explosives and then detonated.

That same day, the Al Nusrah Front’s Twitter feed for Idlib posted the picture below of the same truck, saying that multiple tons of explosives had been loaded into it. The driver’s alias was given as Abu Hurayra al Muhajir, or “the Emigrant.” Thus, the Twitter feed indicated only that Abu Hurayra had emigrated to Syria, but not that he was an American.

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Similarly, the Al Nusrah Front Twitter feed for Idlib posted images of the other three vehicles used in the suicide operations. One of the other drivers was a Syrian. And the remaining two were also reportedly foreign fighters, with one being from the Maldives and the other described as from “Turkistan,” likely a reference to Central Asia or China.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • David says:

    Am I wrong? This seems to me to show a lack of intent to hit our homeland, either that or a stupid waste of a valuable asset. Why didn’t they use this guy to attack us? He presumably had an American passport, and could pass for one of us pretty easily.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    The only other Maldivian islamic terrorist case I heard was when Ali Jaleel in 2009 along with two other men, as part of the Pakistani Taliban stormed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters in Lahore and detonated a car bomb that killed about 30 people and injured 300. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more Maldivians in Syria.

  • Mark Long says:

    Good article, Thomas–thanks.
    Wondering about the ISIL logo, however. Jabhat al-Nusra claimed the operation in its statement, but the truck appears with its antagonist’s banner motif. Someone else picked up on this on an Arabic site (link below). Others thoughts on this? Apparently, when J.N. released its statement, they obscured the logo.
    Thanks, Mark Long, Baylor


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