On Friday, the White House administration confirmed that a citizen of the United States participated in Syria in a suicide bombing. That was the first time an American is thought to have done that in the civil war that has gone on for over three years.
The American has been identified as 22-year old Moner Mohammad Abusalha from South Florida who had Middle East descent. Officials from the U.S., who spoke only, if granted anonymity, have said that the American appeared to travel to Syria on multiple occasions and that his trips had been known by law enforcement prior to his suicide bombing.
The first reports of an American being involved in a suicide attack in Idlib a province in northern Syria surfaced online during the week, after a video was posted by a group that has al-Qaeda links that showed Abusalha packing shells into a large truck and purportedly driving off toward his destination.
In the same footage, a huge explosion is seen of in the countryside somewhere in Idlib, beside a picture of a man with a beard who is thought to be Abusalha holding a kitten.
The man is identified by war name (nickname) Abu Huraira al-Amriki, which means the American.
The group linked to al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, released a statement that said the suicide bombing was one of a four-part coordinated attack against Syria government forces, in which two foreign fighters as well as a Syrian had participated.
A number of Americans have gone to Syria following the start of the conflict there, which has raised concerns that some might return to the U.S. and launch similar attacks.
Stopping those types of attacks has become one of the top counterterrorism priorities of the FBI and officials charged several individuals with supporting terrorism inside Syria.
Officials in law enforcement on Friday said they contacted the Abusalha family. Twenty-five year old Orlando Taylor said he was friends with Mahrous the older brother of Abusalha in Vero Beach. The parents of Abusalha still live there. Taylor knew Abusalha and thought of him as a deeply religious but peaceful person.
Taylor called Moner an activist and full Muslim. He said the American had gone to Sebastian River High School but quit prior to graduating and eventually earned his GED in 2008.