Douglas McAuthur McCain was described by former classmates who knew him growing up in Minnesota as “a good guy,” “goofy,” “a fun guy,” and “a goofball” who was “always smiling.”
The New York Times reports that McCain was killed in a battle in recent days in Marea, a city in northern Syria near the Turkish border. He was fighting for ISIS.
At least 100 Americans have traveled to Syria to fight for rebel groups, according to senior American officials, but only a few are believed to have died there. In May, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a 22-year-old Florida man who had traveled to Syria, killed himself in a suicide bomb attack. A year earlier, Nicole Lynn Mansfield, 33, of Flint, Mich., was killed with Syrian rebels in Idlib Province.
News of Americans fighting and dying in Syria renews concerns about the risk of some returning and bring their jihad home.
Frankly, for several reasons I think these fears are being overstated:
1. ISIS’s effort to recruit a few good men to fight in Syria and Iraq does not seem to be appealing to America’s best and brightest.
2. “We are coming for you, mark my words, listen to my words you big kuffār,” warned Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who grew up in Florida. But then, having burned his passport, he went on to blow himself up.
As things stand right now, foreign fighters from the U.S. or elsewhere in the West are most likely ISIS’s most expendable assets because what they lack in talent, they make up for in fervor and thus are the most suitable candidates for suicidal missions.
3. The skills these guys are acquiring are not necessarily ones they can transfer outside the battlefield. Look at the assembly of the truck bomb that Abusalha detonated. Having captured numerous Syrian military bases, ISIS doesn’t have any trouble filling a truck with artillery shells, but that’s not an exercise that would be instructive to the next would-be Timothy McVeigh.
4. Obviously, causing mayhem doesn’t require great skills. But neither does it require the motives driving a zealot.
The next time there’s a mass shooting in the U.S. the perpetrator might be a guy who acquired his blood lust under the tutelage of ISIS. But it’s even more likely that he will be some kind of misfit angry about his inability to find a girlfriend, or driven by whatever other personal demon that happens to haunt him.
The threat that ISIS poses is very real and broad in scope, but it’s not the lives of average Americans which are at stake.
The fears that the world needs to address are those that compel a young girl to carry an AK-47.
— Danny Makki (@Dannymakkisyria) August 18, 2014