One of a number of Americans estimated to be fighting on the battlefields of the Middle East under an ISIS banner died in combat this week. But he was not just any American. This man who fought under the flag of a group which had just assassinated an American journalist by beheading as part of an ultimatum to the United States had among the most American names ever conceived.
“Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army,” NBC News confirmed.
McCain’s identity was revealed when the contents of his pockets were found to contain $800 and an American passport.
Until early last year, a Twitter account linked to McCain included mostly mundane messages to friends about basketball – how the Lakers suck, comments about the Chicago Bulls – with only a few messages about Allah or Islam. The most political it got appeared to be a #FreeGaza tweet on Jan 2, 2013. There was also a message posted around the same time, with an image of a woman in a burqa and the words “there is nothin like a mother love.” Then the account went silent for more than a year.
Sometime in between, McCain reportedly worked at a Somali restaurant in San Diego – African Spice – and was known around the Masjid Nur mosque, according to an acquaintance.
McCain reportedly managed to enter Syria through the border with Turkey. He reportedly called himself “Duale ThaslaveofAllah” and began disseminating ISIS propaganda on his social media accounts in the early spring.
In May, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, an American-born jihadi who executed a suicide attack on Bashar al-Assad’s forces in May, reportedly was able to travel in and out of the United States undetected by authorities.
CNN reported on Tuesday that McCain was not an unknown figure to American counter-terror officials and he was on the terror watch list, which suggests he might have had a difficult time reentering the U.S. The White House is, however, taking the threat posed by Western Islamist fighters seriously.
In September, President Barack Obama will chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council where he will address the growing crisis associated with Western civilians who could plan and execute terror attacks against Western interests with little means of detecting them.