United States officials said on Wednesday that Abu Hurayra al-Amriki or Abu Hurayra the American, a U.S. citizen likely carried out one of four suicide bombings on May 25 in Syria's Idlib province on behalf of al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra.
If U.S. investigators confirm his identity, Abu Hurayra al-Amriki would be the first known American suicide bomber in Syria, but not the first American to play a significant role in terrorist attacks, essentially turning against his own country. American born Muslim Cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki rose through the ranks of al-Qaeda to a senior recruiter and motivator who was instrumental in planning terrorist operations for al-Qaeda. The United States Department of Homeland Security considered al-Awlaki U.S. public enemy number one before he was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen on Sept. 30, 2011. Another American citizen, Adam Gadahn moved from California to Pakistan in 1998 where he joined al-Qaeda. In 2004, Gadahn served as Osama bin Laden’s media adviser and spokesman.
Another American, David Coleman Headley, a Chicago businessman is currently serving 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to planning the deadly 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Headley attended training camps for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group behind the Mumbai attacks.
In October, 2011, a 22 year-old American from Minnesota, Abdisalan Hussein Ali, was identified as one of two suicide bombers disguised as soldiers involved in a suicide attack on African Union troops in Mogadishu, the Somali capital that killed at least 10 people. The FBI confirmed that Ali, an American of Somali descent was the third American suicide bomber to join al-Shabaab from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The September, 2013, three of approximately 15 al-Shabaab terrorists that attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 innocent people were U.S. residents. An Al-Shabaab insider identified 3 of the Islamist militant group that ambushed the upscale shopping mall as U.S. residents, possibly American citizens, two from Minnesota and a third man from Missouri.
The United State Department of Homeland Security and the FBI claim to have thwarted numerous homegrown terrorist plots involving American citizens and al-Qaeda sympathizers who wanted to carry out suicide missions on U.S.soil. In January, 2012, FBI agents arrested a 25 year old naturalized U.S. citizen born in the former Yugoslavia described as an Islamic extremist accused of plotting a series of attacks in the Tampa, Florida area, the final attack was to detonate explosives strapped to his waist in a suicide attack.
American born citizens turned terrorists have increased dramatically in the 12 years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.The internet has been an instrumental tool in recruiting young Westerners, both male and female -- including Americans. YouTube and other social media websites and chat rooms continue to successfully recruit young American jihadists.