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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/27/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A small number of Americans are believed to have traveled to Syria to fight for extremist groups

Douglas McAuthur McCain, an American, has been reported killed fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria. McCain, the U.S. government believes, belonged to a small number of Americans that have traveled to Syria to fight for extremist groups.

'He was a beautiful person and whatever thoughts that were going on that made him make this decision were not out of hate,' a cousin of Douglas McAuthur McCain said.

"He was a beautiful person and whatever thoughts that were going on that made him make this decision were not out of hate," a cousin of Douglas McAuthur McCain said.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/27/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Douglas McAuthur McCain, Syria, Islamic State, killed


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A cousin of McCain told British telecasters that the U.S. government had called his mother to confirm his death. McCain was found dead by Free Syrian Army fighters after a battle this weekend.

"My family is accepting the confirmation that was given to U.S. by the government," his cousin Jocelyn Smith told the BBC. "I am really shocked."

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Senior U.S. officials confirmed that McCain was fighting for Islamic State, or IS, which now controls large areas of Iraq and Syria.

McCain's cousin, Smith said the family had not been surprised when McCain converted to Islam a decade ago, but had no idea he had traveled to Syria or was potentially fighting for militants there.

"He was a beautiful person and whatever thoughts that were going on that made him make this decision were not out of hate," she said. "I thought he was in Turkey and why he was in Turkey was unclear to us."

McCain had been born in Minnesota and had moved to California with family, she added.
Hundreds of foreign fighters have gone to Syria in recent years. Two Americans, 33-year-old Nicole Lynn Mansfield and 22-year-old Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha have died in the conflict.

Mansfield, a Muslim convert, died in May of last year, apparently while trying to attack Syrian government forces. Salha, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, died in an explosion last May during an attack on the Syrian army.

He had joined a rebel group, Nusra Front, and became the first American suicide bomber in the Syria conflict.

Western officials have warned of foreign fighters returning to the U.S. and Europe after receiving training in Syria.

"We were aware of U.S. Citizen Douglas McAuthur McCain's presence in Syria and can confirm his death," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

"We continue to use every tool we possess to disrupt and dissuade individuals from traveling abroad for violent jihad and to track and engage those who return."

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