Back to 9/11? U.S. drawn into the Syrian battle field
An image grab taken from a video released by jihadist group Al-Nusra Front shows a portrait of American citizen Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, who is believed to have been involved in the suicide bombing against regime forces in Idlib. (AFP)
On 25 May 2014, a football and Dunkin´ Donuts loving 22 year old American blew up an explosives-laden truck and himself in Idlib, Syria as part of four coordinated attacks on a Syrian military position. These attacks were made on behalf of Al Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad´s regime.
What made this middle-class man from Florida that basketball teammates called “Mo” turn into Abu Hurayra al Amriki, the nom de guerre that according to NBC news referred to his American nationality and the historically important, cat-loving companion of the Prohpet Muhammad?
According to the Miami Herald, "Mo" or Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, as his parents named him, posted frequently on Facebook about prayer, God and the Prophet Mohammed. However in person, according to a neighbour, Mark Hill, 46 and reported by Reuters, Abu-Salha was a "normal boy" who walked around the neighborhood with a basketball looking for someone to join him in a game. He only played a handful of basketball games and never scored more than three or four points in the 2007 season. However Reuters reports that the manager of his basketball team, Holly Gorman, described Abu-Salha as "a coachable kid" and "a diligent worker," who was "short and stocky, built more like a football player". Gorman said that "everybody liked him and the coach kept him on the team because he was all heart. He was that kind of player." Abu-Salha´s neighbour, Hill, as reported by Reuters also described Abu-Salha´s family as "very nice people, always pleasant” with the garge door to the family home often open and the father wearing a long white tunic, the mother a headscarf and Abu-Salha T-shirts. The Jordanian-Palestinian parents owned a series of Middle Eastern grocery stores and were known in the community.
Abu-Salah left this community and traveled to Syria on the other side of the world. According to the Miami Herald, foreign fighters there were instructed to adopt a nickname and protect their real identity as “their families could be targeted by police or the CIA for coming to Syria”. Further, of the two groups that claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, the Nusra Front and the Islamic Front´s Sugour al Sham, the latter claimed that “Abu Hurayra was well known to us in Suqour al Sham for his kindness and bravery in combat”. The Miami Herald continues that in a martyrdom video released on YouTube, titled “The American Martyrdom for the Nusra Front,” the suicide bomber prayed, played with cats and prepared for his apparent mission. The video captures people loading a truck with explosives and concludes with a large explosion according to the Huffington Post.
The American-terror connection?
Since the Syrian civil war began, more than 7,500 foreign fighters have joined the conflict and according to the New York Times, more than 70 U.S. residents may have traveled to join it. Borrowing on FBI Director James Comey's premonition, as reported in the Miami Herald, there could be future political implications that draw America back into the eye of the storm: “there is going to be a diaspora out of Syria at some point"-- (arguably already begun). The inevitable concern as voiced by Comey becomes "not to let lines get drawn between Syria today and a future 9/11.”