In the midst of a battle between two Syrian opposition groups this weekend, an American was killed while fighting for ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham).
NBC reports there were a significant number of casualties on both sides; and once it was over, the rebels searched the dead to find anything of worth. One pocket held a U.S. passport and approximately $800 in cash.
According to the Free Syrian Army, the American who died was Douglas McAuthur McCain, a former San Diego resident. The passport belonged to him.
Via NBC News:
Photos of McCain’s passport and of his body — which feature a distinctive neck tattoo — have been seen by NBC News. According to an activist linked to the Free Syrian Army who also saw the body and travel document, McCain was among three foreign jihadis fighting with ISIS who died during the battle.
McCain is not the only American believed to have sided with ISIS and other radical terrorist groups. Senior administration officials believe that dozens of Americans have relocated to Syria in support of ISIS. The same officials have been informed on McCain’s death in Syria and have contacted his family to make them aware of the news, NBC reports.
“The threat we are most concerned about to the homeland is that of fighters like this returning to the U.S. and committing acts of terrorism,” a senior administration official told NBC News.
McCain, according to his Facebook account, called himself “Duale ThaslaveofAllah.” His bio on Twitter claims, “It’s Islam over everything.”
Many who knew him question how he ended up in Syria.
Via NBC News:
Douglas McAuthur McCain was born in Illinois on Jan. 29, 1981. His family later moved to Minnesota’s Twin Cities area where he attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope as part of the class of 1999.
Classmates at the school – which was described to NBC News as around 75 percent white and 10 percent African American – recalled an “always smiling” joker who liked to laugh and play basketball. McCain wasn’t on the high school team and didn’t come across as religious, according to one basketball buddy.
“He was a goofball in high school,” that classmate told NBC News. “Doug was a fun guy to be around. Played basketball, joked a lot, had a small sense of humor. Got along with most … Wasn’t the best athlete, but liked to play.”
Another classmate recalled going to teen nights on Fridays at the local YMCA to play basketball and dance. McCain “was a good guy who loved his family and friends,” the classmate said. “He would be the light in anyone’s darkness. He always made you smile with his goofy self.”
After high school, McCain stuck around the Twin Cities for at least a while. Public records searches show several run-ins with the law. One mugshot of a Douglas McAuthur McCain details an arrest in 2000 at the age of 19 in New Hope on charges of disorderly conduct. Another arrest record – also from New Hope – shows the same man was arrested again in 2006 and booked on charges of obstruction. The mugshot from that arrest also clearly appears to be McCain – and has the same neck tattoo that is seen in Facebook photos of McCain on his “Duale ThaslaveofAllah” account – and the body found on the Syrian battlefield. NBC News confirmed on Tuesday that he was convicted of both charges.
Around 2004, McCain “reverted” to Islam, according to his Twitter feed.
His faith was apparent to those who met him on his journeys to other countries, such as Sweden. He easily made friends whether it was in the rapping scene or on the basketball court.
Several Swedes told NBC News that they met him on a visit there – between three and four years ago – when he performed in the town of Vasteras, near Stockholm and attended an underground rap show.
Kevin Törnström Kohlin remembered seeing McCain’s basketball skills on display at a game in Vasteras – and bonding over a shared love of Rick Ross and Ace Hood.
“He’s a good dribbler, passer and great at taking care of the phase of the game when he got the ball,” Kohlin told NBC News. “He was like a really nice guy. He smiles a lot and brings a lot of good energy.”
“We would talk just a little bit about religion,” Kohlin added. “He respected my Christianity.”