Sword-Swinging 'Hipster Jihadi' Is New ISIS Mascot

Well-educated Egyptian with black-rimmed glasses tweets support for militants

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 8, 2014 2:27 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Islam Yaken is a law school graduate who comes from an affluent Egyptian family, speaks three languages, and sports a trendy haircut and thick-rimmed glasses that make him look more like an extra on Portlandia than a Sunni insurgent. But Yaken's vocal support for the Islamic State, or ISIS, and his frightening Twitter feed—which features bloodied bodies and images of Yaken wielding guns and, in at least one instance, a sword—paint a chillingly different picture of the man now known as the "hipster jihadi," reports the Telegraph.

Although Yaken now mainly uses social media to give his thumbs-up to the rebels' penchant for violence, and to support the group's anointed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it appears the "cosmopolitan young man" used to lead a more secular lifestyle in Cairo, says the New York Daily News: He would spend his days exercising at a local gym, posting workout videos on YouTube, and tweeting about how many calories were burned while kissing. This jarring juxtaposition has shocked people back home. One woman who says she attended high school with Yaken tweeted that the change in him is "freaking scary," while another pal says that he "is a very respectful person" who—at least in previous days—was "really funny, always making jokes, always a smile on his face," reports Al Arabiya.

A photo from Islam Yaken's Twitter account.
A photo from Islam Yaken's Twitter account.   (Twitter)
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