Update — 5/29/2014: U.S. officials have confirmed that the suicide bombing was conducted by an American citizen who grew up in Florida.
News that an American may have been one of four suicide bombers involved in an attack in Syria on May 25 conducted by Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), Al Qaeda in Syria, has been circulated by various extremists on social media over the past two days.
If accurate, the attack further indicates the integration of foreign fighters, and specifically Westerners, with terrorist organizations in Syria.
Abu Hurayra Al Amriki would be at least the fourth American rumored to have been killed while fighting in Syria, joining Nicole Mansfield, Amiir Farouk Ibrahim and a man identified as Abu Dujana al Amriki. An apparent image of Abu Hurayra Al Amriki holding a cat and juxtaposed to images of the bombing was shared by several JN supports on Twitter.
He would also be at least the fourth known American to have successfully undertaken a suicide bombing on behalf of an Al Qaeda linked terrorist organization. The other three, Shirwa Ahmed, Farah Mohamad Beledi and Abisdalan Hussein Ali, were among a wave of Americans who joined Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda in Somalia, primarily between 2007 and 2012.
The U.S. State Department’s “Think Again, Turn Away” account on Twitter, which aims to counter terrorist sentiments online, Tweeted: “another life wasted by #alqaeda’s cult of death. Thanks to them #Assad remains in power while Syrians suffer.” U.S. officials, however, have not confirmed whether or not an American was actually involved in the attack.
Two other Americans, Nicholas Teausant and U.S. legal permanent resident Mohamad Hassan Hamdan, are known to have attempted to travel to Syria to fight alongside terrorist organizations this year. There were several other Americans publically identified who joined or attempted to join the conflict in 2013.
Concerns over Americans fighting in Syria have been increasing since the start of the conflict, with “dozens” believed to have travelled there thus far according to U.S. intelligence officials. Last week, the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor to investigate individuals travelling to Syria, and they have long been the subject of high levels of scrutiny by law enforcement.
Although casualty counts were unavailable as of this writing, the suicide attack reportedly killed or wounded “dozens” of Syrian troops. The attack had been directed at Syrian army positions in the Idlib province of Syria.