BEIRUT, Lebanon – The suicide truck-bombing against a Syrian army position conducted by a U.S. citizen could have been detonated remotely, according to sources here.
U.S. officials have confirmed that an American from Florida working with al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra carried out the May 25 attack in Syria’s Idlib province.
He would be the first American to engage in a suicide attack in the Syrian conflict. The sources who say the detonation could have been conducted remotely cite recent examples of al-Nusra attacks in south Beirut.
While the American’s name still isn’t known, he goes by the nom de guerre Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki, meaning he was from the United States. The name Abu Hurayra comes from a companion of Islam’s founder, Muhammad.
A recent photo of the American shows him holding a cat.
While U.S. officials won’t identify Abu Hurayra al-Amriki in public, they reportedly are in contact with his family.
Information about the suicide attack first surfaced earlier this week in Twitter messages among al-Nusra fighters.
U.S. officials have told WND an estimated 50 Americans have joined al-Nusra and its rival, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (Sham), or ISIS.
Syrian sources told WND that at least 30 of the Americans are in Syria while the others are in Turkey awaiting transfer into Syria.
The problem is that law enforcement officials don’t know who they are and are concerned that if they survive in Syria, they will return to the U.S. to wage jihad, utilizing their battlefield experience.
According to reports, “Abu Hurayra” is the fourth American to have been killed while fighting in Syria.
The other three killed in Syria are Nicole Mansfield, Amir Farouk Ibrahim and Abu Dujana al-Amriki.
Another three Americans who had joined another al-Qaida affiliate, al-Shaabab in Somalia, also are known to have been killed.
The three Americans were killed in Syria in combat, not a suicide bombing.
Sources here suggest “Abu Hurayra” might not have known that he was going to be a suicide bomber and that the detonation of some 17 tons of explosives and artillery shells possibly was triggered remotely through the use of a cell phone.
This has been the recent operating procedure by al-Nusra in south Beirut. A car, said to be laden with explosives, will travel down the street, since parking is highly restricted here.
An observer perched on a balcony or a roof top then dials a number on the cell phone and remotely detonates the vehicle. For that reason, security officials who are members of Hezbollah in an area under their control now forbid people from hanging out on balconies and especially on roof tops of the myriad of apartment buildings in this highly residential area.
In the latest case, “Abu Hurayra” was the driver of a truck laden with explosives. As the truck reportedly approached the summit of a hill, it exploded. As it did, fellow al-Nusra fighters shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “Allah is the greatest,” followed by celebratory shooting in the air.
A number of Syrian government troops were said to have died in the explosion.
“I know he was an American, had an American passport and that he was with the Nusra Front,” one fighter reached through a Skype exchange said.
He said that he had seen the American before the bombing but didn’t speak to him and didn’t know where he was from.