American Arrested on Way to Join Jihad in Syria

By Ryan Mauro, The Clarion Project

Federal authorities arrested Donald Ray Morgan, an ex-convict from North Carolina and a fervent supporter of the terrorist group, the Islamic State (formerly called ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). Morgan was arrested on August 2 on firearms charges. He is the eighth American arrested this year linked to Syrian jihadists, seven of which shared the Islamic State’s ideology.

Morgan declared his loyalty to the Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Twitter, where he posted under the pseudonym of “Abu Omar al-Amreeki.” His account is deleted but a snapshot of his account shows he supported the Islamic State and Hamas.

His Twitter account shows he was motivated by an Islamist ideology and not a political or social grievance. His advocacy for the Islamic State is described as “commanding good and forbidding evil,” reflecting a desire to impose Islamist governance. One tweet brought attention to the burning of cigarettes and tobacco by Islamic State militants in Iraq.

It is not clear when Morgan converted to radical Islam, but he was able to leave the U.S. to stay with his wife in Lebanon for eight months. The Islamic State captured a town in northeast Lebanon earlier this month after being pushed back by the Syrian regime’s forces and Hezbollah.

Morgan was arrested at New York’s JFK International Airport for the illegal possession of firearms. The FBI inexplicably claims there is “no indication of anything with terrorism, the charges are for firearms violation,” even though Morgan’s bail was denied based on his extremist activity.

Chief Magistrate Judge Steven Gold said the tweets “clearly implied to me that he is trying to go to Syria or Iraq.” Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Nadia Moore said, “It’s possible that he traffics in guns to people in this organization (ISIS).”

The arrest comes as the U.S. is carrying out limited airstrikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and assessment that the terrorist group is threatening the U.S. The group’s supporters are threatening Americans on social media using the hashtag of #AMessageFromISIStoUS.

“We will humiliate them [the U.S. military] everywhere, Allah willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House,” declared an Islamic State spokesperson.

Members of Congress are warning that the Islamic State is capable of attacking the U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, says the group is “more powerful than Al-Qaeda was on 9/11.” Over 100 Americans are believed to be fighting the jihad in Syria, some of them having joined the Islamic State.

Morgan is the eighth American arrested this year who was suspected of planning a trip to Syria for jihadist purposes. The other seven are:

  • Adam Dandach of California, who sought to join the Islamic State;
  • Shannon Maureen Conley of Colorado, who was intercepted on her way to provide medical and military assistance to the Islamic State. She became romantically involved with an Islamic State member online;
  • Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas, who wanted to join Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic State; Nicholas Michael Teausant of California, who wanted to bomb a Los Angeles subway but instead chose to join the Islamic State;
  • Mohammad Hassan Hamdan of Michigan, who wanted to join Hezbollah and defend the Assad regime; and 
  • Avin Marsalis Brown and Akba Jihad Jordan of North Carolina, a pair that wanted to join a jihadist group in Syria.

All the Islamic State needs in order to attack America is someone inside the country and luck. It doesn’t require command-and-control or organized cells. All it takes is a recruit who manages to slip under the radar of the U.S. government.

To downplay the threat from the Islamic State  supporters is to forget what happened in Boston on April 15, 2013.


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