Who Was American ISIS Fighter Douglas McCain?

Convert's background combed for clues
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2014 4:53 AM CDT
Updated Aug 27, 2014 7:59 AM CDT
Who Was Douglas McCain, American ISIS Fighter?
This March 23, 2008, photo provided by the Hennepin County, Minn., Sheriff's Office shows Douglas McAuthur McCain.   (AP Photo/Hennepin County, Minn., Sheriff's Office)

Douglas McAuthur McCain was just one of many Americans known to have traveled to Syria—but he is the first known to have died fighting for ISIS, and his background and social media profile are being combed for clues. The 33-year-old, who converted to Islam from Christianity a decade ago, was born in Illinois, went to high school in suburban Minnesota, and has an arrest record that includes busts for theft and marijuana possession, the New York Times reports. More:

  • A former neighbor in Minnesota says McCain was the middle child of three, used to be a keen basketball player but lost interest as he grew older, and "lost his anchor" when his father died.
  • In recent years, he lived with his mother and sister in San Diego, where he attended college and worked in a restaurant called African Spice, reports the Union-Tribune.

  • Under the Twitter handle @iamthetooth, he praised Islam and ISIS, said the movie The Help had made him "hate white people," and disparaged gays and non-believers. "Ya Allah when it's my time to go have mercy on my soul have mercy on my bros," he tweeted in May this year.
  • His uncle says the last time the family heard from him, he was traveling in Turkey. The family is "devastated" and "just as surprised as the country," the uncle tells CNN, describing McCain as a "good person, loved his family, loved his mother, loved his faith."
  • In Minneapolis, McCain was close friends with Troy Kastigar, a fellow convert to Islam who died in Somalia fighting with al-Shabab militants, Kastigar's mother tells the New York Daily News. "They both were sort of searching, it seemed like," she says. "I think both of them had a really strong desire to be needed and (be) of value."
  • US officials say they didn't have advance warning that McCain planned to travel to Syria, but they knew he was in the country and that he would have faced extra scrutiny if he had tried to fly home.
(More ISIS stories.)

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