Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Douglas McAuthur McCain: What Was Lure of Islamic State for Him - and Others?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Douglas McAuthur McCain: What Was Lure of Islamic State for Him - and Others?

Article excerpt

Top US intelligence officials have been warning for years about the threat of "home-grown violent extremists," or HVEs in their shorthand lingo.

These are typically young Americans, they say, who may feel like outcasts in their own communities but find comfort and purpose in a greater cause - such as, say, violent jihad - often through the Internet.

Minnesota resident Douglas McAuthur McCain, who was killed while battling rebel forces in a Syrian suburb, posted Facebook entries and tweets making it clear that he found camaraderie and a sense of conviction in the Islamic State, also known as IS or ISIS.

"I'm with brothers now," he tweeted in June from Syria, according to NBC News. "It takes a warrior to understand a warrior. Pray for ISIS."

Born in Illinois and raised in Minnesota's Twin Cities area, Mr. McCain is "absolutely the next iteration of the home-grown terrorist threat," says Matthew Levitt, director of the Washington Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

"These home-grown violent extremists are people who keep me up at night," Attorney General Eric Holder warned in July. "Trying to monitor them, trying to anticipate what it is they are going to do."

In the case of McCain and others, they may "go over as disaffected young men and come back having forged networks and training - as well as battlefield experience," says Michael Singh, former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, who is now also at the Washington Institute.

An estimated 300 Americans have gone to fight - or attempted to go and fight - in the region, according US intelligence officials. In July, an American from Florida, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, carried out a suicide attack in Syria on behalf of Jabhat al-Nusra, which the United States has labeled a terrorist organization. …

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