On Friday, State Department officials verified that an American named Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha was part of a suicide bombing raid on Syrian government soldiers this week.
The Al Nusrah Front, a branch of Al Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon, had claimed on May 25 that an American was among four suicide bombers who died in a successful attack in Syria.
Abu Sulayman al-Muhajir, a high-ranking sharia official in the Al Nusrah Front, originally made the announcement on Twitter, according to The Long War Journal.
In the tweet, Abu Sulayman attached an image of a scraggly-bearded man wearing a hideous blue sweater and affectionately holding a mangy cat.
The tweet’s accompanying text describes the man as “Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki,” which means “the American.”
More text translates to: “Performed a martydom operation in Idlib, Jabal Al-Arba’een. May Allah accept him.”
Sen. Bill Nelson, R-Fla., has indicated that he had been informed that Abu-Salha was a resident of Florida prior to his final journey to Syria, reports Fox News.
An anti-government combatant in Syria described Abu-Salha to The New York Times as an Arab-American with terrible Arab language skills. “He was a generous, brave, tough man, always on the front lines in battles,” the Times’s man in civil war-ravaged Syria recalled.
The Times also tracked down a bunch of random information about Abu-Salha. The early-twentysomething terrorist liked football, basketball and Eggo waffles, according to a Facebook page. He played on a youth basketball team called the Indian River Warriors in 2007. His family owns grocery stores.
A May 25 YouTube video posted by the Al Nusrah Front purports to show the successful suicide-bomb operation. The Al Nusrah Front claims the attack occurred in Idlib, an overwhelmingly Sunni city in northwestern Syria.
The noticeably well-produced video also shows the run-up to the attack, and the explosives-laden truck that was used.
If Abu-Salha is, in fact, dead because he took part in a suicide bombing, the attack would mark the first time – as far as anyone knows – that an American jihadist participated in a suicide mission in Syria.
It’s not immediately clear why a suicide mission involving a single truck would require four suicide bombers.
The attack was a small part of the ongoing, three-year civil war in Syria.
In English, the full name of the Al Nusrah Front is “The Support Front for the People of Levant.” The group said it carried out the attack in Idlib jointly with another group, Suqour al Sham — “Falcons of the Levant Brigade.”
The United States government has designated the Al Nusrah Front as a terrorist organization. Most, if not all, of the group’s members are Sunni Islamist mujahideen.