Turncoats

Douglas McAuthur McCain, John Walker Lindh, and Other American Jihadis

Douglas McAuthur McCain is just the latest in a long line of U.S. citizens-turned-self-proclaimed jihadis who have joined up with foreign terror groups.

The Evolution Of The American Jihadi

This week, U.S. officials announced that an American citizen had been killed inside Syria while fighting for the extremist group ISIS, which has bedevilled the region by declaring a Muslim caliphate, snatching up territory in Iraq, and sowing terror through forced conversions and beheadings. Experts estimate that dozens of U.S. citizens have flocked to the Middle East's jihad du jour—this summer, ISIS released a propaganda video with a fighter claiming to be an American, while another video supposedly showed an American suicide bomber burning his passport. Yet these self-anointed jihadis are just the latest in a line of tormented souls who have joined up with foreign terror groups post 9/11.

Douglas McAuthur McCain

The 33-year-old Twin Cities native, who had joined up with ISIS extremists in Syria, was killed this week in a shootout between the moderate Free Syrian Army rebels and the jihadi terror network. Remembered by friends as a "goofy" kid who loved the NBA and rap music, he began to spout more radical views early last year, calling himself "Duale ThaslaveofAllah" on Facebook and changing his Twitter bio to: "It's Islam over everything." In May, he apparently started reaching out to self-proclaimed jihadis via social media, as well as retweeting the statement's of ISIS's spokesman. 

 

AFP/Getty

John Walker Lindh

As a 20-year-old Islamic convert and Spike Lee fan from Marin County, California, John Walker Lindh was captured fighting alongside the Taliban when U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan in November 2001. He agreed to a plea deal with the feds—the government wouldn't charge him with terrorism, and he would go to prison for 20 years, no chance at parole. Later, he claimed that he had been subjected to abusive interrogations and, after the death of Osama bin Laden, his parents have been vocal in calling for his early release from jail.

Feisal Omar/Reuters

Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki

Alabama-born Omar Hammami—who took the battle name Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki ("the American")—abandoned his wife and infant daughter in 2006 and headed to Somalia, a twentysomething kid chronicling his jihadist goings-on in YouTube rap videos and rambling tweets. But after a falling-out with his fellow extremists in al-Shabab, the local militant group that has long terrorized Somalia's lawless state, Hammami was killed in 2013, in an attack ordered by top Shabab leaders. Before he died the FBI had a $5 million bounty on information leading to his capture.

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Adam Yahiye Gadahn

In 2006, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, aka Adam Pearlman, aka "Azzam the American," became the first American charged with treason in half a century when the Justice Department accused him of "giving aid and comfort" to al Qaeda. The California native and Islamic convert, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, has long been the face of al Qaeda propaganda videos, in which he praises the 9/11 hijackers and declares that "the streets of America shall run red with blood."

Abu Dujana al Amriki

In a propaganda video that surfaced last year, when al Qaeda and ISIS were still allies, an alleged American who calls himself Abu Dujana al-Amriki touts the extremist fight against Bashar al-Assad in Syria. It remains unclear whether the video is a hoax, propaganda put out by the Assad regime to stir up Western fears of the extremist threat, or propaganda from al Qaeda and/or ISIS themselves.

Eric Harroun

Syria's original "American jihadist," the swashbuckling 31-year-old U.S. Army vet fought with rebels against Bashar al-Assad's brutal government—then faced a brief stint in jail and questioning by the feds when he returned home (they were afraid he'd joined up with an al Qaeda affiliate while in the Middle East). But Harroun's Mad Max life ended with a whimper, not a bang: in April of this year, he died of an "accidental overdose" at his father's home in Arizona.

Tracy Woodward/Getty

Anwar Al Awalki

The American-born cleric was a top dog in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula until he was killed in a U.S. drone attack in 2011. His anti-American sermons called for fresh recruits to the extremist cause and his online jihadi magazine published DYI bomb-making recipes. Scores of Americans charged with attempting homegrown terrorist attacks claimed Awalki as an inspiration for their bloody plans.