US Suicide Bomber Came Home Before Attack

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Moner Mohammad Abu SalhaWhen Moner Mohammad Abusalha drove a truck packed with explosives into a restaurant in northern Syria in May, American authorities conceded that they knew little about how a young man who grew up a basketball-obsessed teenager in a Florida gated community had become a suicide bomber.

And they have never publicly acknowledged the startling discovery they made weeks into their investigation: that after receiving training by an extremist group in Syria, Mr. Abusalha had returned to the United States for several months before leaving the country for the last time.

Mr. Abusalha, 22, chose to carry out his attack in Syria rather than in the United States, but the difficulty learning about his background, motivations and travels illustrates the problems law enforcement officials face in trying to identify the Westerners — including dozens of Americans — believed to have been trained by Islamic militants in Syria.

Counterterrorism officials in both Europe and the United States have long said they consider the return of their radicalized citizens from Syria a looming threat, especially to nations easily reached from Syria. But with so many Americans traveling abroad, officials in the United States face the difficult question of how to deal with a potential danger posed by a small group of people.

Rick Nelson, a former senior counterterrorism official, said the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies should be blamed for missing Mr. Abusalha’s travels if they did not detect red flags “like he was chatting on the Internet with radical groups or posting radical ideological statements on social media.”
But “if he was below the radar and basically bought a ticket and then came back, there would be no reason to investigate him,” said Mr. Nelson, now a vice president at Cross Match Technologies. “It’s fairly easy to go overseas and stay under the radar.”

An F.B.I. spokesman, Michael Kortan, declined to discuss Mr. Abusalha but acknowledged the problems facing law enforcement officials.

“Although we cannot speak to details in this specific case, U.S. officials have warned for months of the difficulties of identifying Americans who travel to Syria to engage in armed conflict,” Mr. Kortan said. “This incident exemplifies the challenges faced by the F.B.I. in detecting U.S. citizens who seek to travel to Syria to engage in jihad.”

Moner Mohammad Abusalha destroying his passport in a video released on July 28, 2014
Moner Mohammad Abusalha destroying his passport in a video released on July 28, 2014

But Mr. Abusalha’s case is also evidence that Westerners drawn to the Syrian conflict do not necessarily have the goal of waging war beyond Syria’s borders. The Nusra Front, the group that trained Mr. Abusalha, is publicly allied with Al Qaeda but committed first to fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s bloody civil war.

American officials are still piecing together Mr. Abusalha’s travels within the United States in between those two Syria trips and gathering information about whom he met. Some insight into his time in Syria was contained in a lengthy video released by the Nusra Front on Monday. Mr. Abusalha is shown tearing, biting and burning his American passport, and explaining his reasons for deciding to give his life for jihad. He said he had gone to Syria from Turkey, where he landed with just $20 in his pocket for a Turkish visa.

“From there I had no money; I didn’t have nobody to even help me get to Syria,” he said. He did not say how he had gotten from Turkey to Syria.
Before leaving the United States, he said, he walked five miles to the airport.

“I asked Allah the whole way to make it easy for me, and Allah made it easy for me,” he said, adding that he had tried to recruit other Americans to go to Syria.

The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security had some indication at the time of his first trip that Mr. Abusalha had traveled to Syria. But they were unaware that he had trained at the Nusra camp and had no information to indicate he planned to take his life, according to the officials. It was only after he arrived in Syria the second time that the United States obtained information about his intention for a suicide attack.

“He was on the path at that point and had decided on launching the attack,” one law enforcement official said. “It was fairly close in time that we learned that and that he launched it.”

Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said at a conference last week that “once they get to Syria, our ability to understand where they are or what they’re doing is really limited.”

He said that law enforcement and intelligence agencies estimated that over 1,000 Westerners — including approximately 100 Americans — had received training in Syria, but that the number was “likely to be higher” because American officials had so little visibility of the movements of foreign fighters into the country.

There have been other occasions when Americans have received terrorist training overseas and then returned home, unbeknown to law enforcement agencies. Before he tried to detonate a bomb in Times Square in 2010, Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American from Pakistan, received explosives training at a camp run by the Pakistani Taliban. Another American, David Headley, made several trips to Pakistani training camps run by the group Lashkar-e-Taiba and helped scout targets for the group, which carried out the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Mr. Nelson, the former counterterrorism official, said Americans traveling to Syria were “a big problem in small numbers.”

An image grab taken from a video released by the militant jihadist group Al-Nusra Front shows US citizen Moner Mohammad Abu Salha who blew himself up at an army post in northwest Syria (AFP.)
An image grab taken from a video released by the militant jihadist group Al-Nusra Front shows US citizen Moner Mohammad Abusalha who blew himself up at an army post in northwest Syria (AFP.)

“It’s privacy versus security — you can’t track the movements of every American overseas,” he said. “It’s only a hundred or so who have traveled there, and there are thousands of Americans who travel every day.”

In the newly released video, Mr. Abusalha spoke directly into the camera for nearly a half-hour, a gun sometimes resting on his shoulder. At times he was calm; at other times he shouted in anger, pounded his chest and pointed a finger at the camera.

He said those fighting in Syria were not terrorists. “You think jihad is evil and terrorism,” he said.

The United States, Russia, China and the Syrian government of Mr. Assad had killed many Muslims, including children, he said. “You think you are safe; you are not safe,” he said.

Even as he was explaining how he was about to give his life, he said his life in Syria had been far better than anything he had ever experienced.

“I lived in America; I know how it is,” he said. “You think you’re happy? You’re not happy. You’re never happy. I was never happy. I was always sad and depressed.”

Then, crying, he said goodbye to his family.

“Mother,” he said, pausing. “I love you, Mom. Stay strong for Allah.”

He said goodbye to his father, who is a Palestinian-American, in Arabic.

To his brother, he said, “I love you, bro.”

The video ended with images of the large cargo truck used in the attack, shown packed with explosives and outfitted with armored plates.

It drove into the distance, and then the video cut to a clip of a giant explosion.

NY Times

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23 responses to “US Suicide Bomber Came Home Before Attack”

  1. sweetvirgo Avatar
    sweetvirgo

    “I lived in America; I know how it is,” he said. “You think you’re happy? You’re not happy. You’re never happy. I was never happy. I was always sad and depressed.”

    But in Syira you found your paradise?!?! Why do these terrorists make these video’s before they die?? Is it to recruit more people….is it proving what a man he will be? Perhaps his courage?? All it shows me is a stupid dumb fu## who has been totally brainwashed into thinking he will get 72 virgins once he becomes a “martyr”. As my dear friend Farq said once….they are 72 virgin MEN waiting. So hopefully this idiot took a lot of vaseline cause his ass will be really torn apart LOL

    1. Greetings Virgo, depression is something millions deal with every day for different reasons but some are often depressed due to their own failures in life and are easily vulnerable targets for recruiters that sell them on a counterfit cause that instantly give them self worth as Moner Mohammad Abusalha was bamboozeled to believe that his contribution would make an ounce of positive difference. hate and violence is a monster that will starve and stop if more people shun the idea and concept of it partaking or cheering for it.

      1. sweetvirgo Avatar
        sweetvirgo

        Greetings Geo, I understand about depression but I don’t believe this guy was depressed. These kind of people like you said are easlily recruited and lured into false promises. But how easy is it to talk someone into doing something?? Or should I ask how easy is it to talk to someone into becoming a suicide bomber?? We can try to analyze his behavior but like you said hate and violence has become part of everyday society. It’s everywhere.

        1. Thanks Virgo,
          I have spent much time over the year taking notes for a project by interaction with people from various cultures and religious beliefs and my conclusion was that just as we have a physical side, an emotional side a mental side, all of us also do have a spiritual side whether we are willing to admit to it or not. the problem with that hunger for spirituality is that it is similar to physical nourishment where we often eat unhealthy food that are convenient or simply more affordable than healthy choices and feel full and satisfied but down the road we become unhealthy because of our poor diet. with all that being said when people are born in different cultures and religions they automatically embrace and accept the traditional doctrines that go along with their demographics and feel full spiritually and fulfilled. The problem with that is often spiritual poisoning takes place where some feel spiritually full by becoming religious and surrender to the false belief that God is actually on their side relying on them to make things right for him by means of either flying airplanes into buildings or committing suicide as they bomb a funeral, a wedding or a line up for bread at the bakery. unfortunately the feeling of being spiritually healthy and walking in Gods light and favor feel identical to when you are actually doing the opposite. with so many religious wars and beliefs that God is in every ar and on everybodies side a rational Man must question the Horrible results and question if he is a victim of false feel good religion. it is a very sensitive subject that often offends people however we all know that there is colunterfit Rolexes, counterfit Ferraris, counterfit Louis Vuitton purses and counterfit currency. just like finding a valuable treasure would not be very easily sitting on a street corner, Finding and having a healthy relationship with the creator of this beautiful planet requires a lot of research and digging that would most certainly prove different result and a people than you read about in all these headlines of depressing evil and casualties that in no way are indicative of Godly people from either side of the Battle, I am sorry for the length of my reply but this subject requires Getting into the deep places in our heart 🙂

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar
            5thDrawer

            (hope scotch wasn’t part of that ‘unhealthy’ diet …)
            Good one, Geo. 🙂
            Euphoria … the opposite of depression. (malaise)
            Considering the amount of hash and cocaine moving around, there must be a hell of a lot of the planet’s people seeking the euphoria – and the problem is, it doesn’t last because it’s induced – not real.
            Too many ‘ups and downs’ can be worse than just down, of course.
            This guy just did one big ‘up’.

          2. sweetvirgo Avatar
            sweetvirgo

            No need to apologize. You’re abosolutely correct. The releationship these jihadists have with God is a very toxic one and so begins the spread of this “disease” especially if one is feeling depressed.

    2. Leborigine Avatar
      Leborigine

      I posted this on another article, but it pretty much sums up your thoughts
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=IgT69wnjr4E

      1. sweetvirgo Avatar
        sweetvirgo

        Good morning Leborigine! Thanks for the video. It was very interesting and I totally agree with what he was saying.

      2. 5thDrawer Avatar
        5thDrawer

        Refreshing to see an open(ed) mind on occasion.
        There was a time in ‘history’ that Christians preached the super ‘fear factors’ too.
        Fire and brimstone and all that stuff. ‘If you don’t do as we say, you will suffer’ … later, in ‘hell’ … which neatly diffuses the suffering of ‘now’ by the thoughts that ‘it could be worse’. (we can speed the process by burning at the stake – to clean you, of course)
        The Roman Church modernized a little with ‘Purgatory’. (the waiting room)
        Us really evil Protestants protested, and thought more about heaven, here and now, and also later on. 😉
        I love naked sun-bathing. You can’t be more open to the heavens than that.

  2. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar
    TheUSequalsTheIS

    i thought iranians were terrorists…. damnit i was wrong again!!!

      1. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar
        TheUSequalsTheIS

        oh honey u r so adorable 🙂

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Only El Supremo. 🙂 And, as ‘Real’ notes …. Yasin al Suri.

      1. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar
        TheUSequalsTheIS

        let me get it straight so iran has ONLY one terrorist n thats el supremo right? but on the other hand all americans r terrorists be it muslims, christians, blacks (barak Nobama) n whites…that explains why the US is so hated

        1. The real lebanese Avatar
          The real lebanese

          But Obama enjoys support from the Shiite community…. Sunnis hate him.

          1. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar
            TheUSequalsTheIS

            now u r even more adorable

          2. The real lebanese Avatar
            The real lebanese

            Thank you 🙂

          3. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar
            TheUSequalsTheIS

            tekram 🙂

    2. The best Iranians are dead ones

      1. TheUSequalsTheIS Avatar
        TheUSequalsTheIS

        i pity u chucky

  3. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    Ah well …
    ‘He’s gone and he won’t be back … He must be a happy man …’
    Catchy tune …

  4. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    Kind of a pudgy short misfit … cherubic face … the kind of kid that gets bullied in youth.
    Too bad he didn’t change. :-)))

  5. sweetvirgo Avatar
    sweetvirgo

    Just noticed in one of the pictures as he prepares to burn his american passport he was biting it like a dog. Which is what he is and I hope he is rotting in hell getting f’d by satan himself.

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