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Middle East

Syrian jihadi video shows first American suicide bomber

Jabhat al-Nusra releases the new video showing Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha with other fighters before the 25 May attack

An al-Qa’ida-linked group fighting in Syria has released a video of the first American to carry out a suicide attack in the country’s civil war, showing him smiling and saying he looked forward to going to heaven.

Jabhat al-Nusra released the new video late on Friday showing American citizen, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, 22, with other fighters before the 25 May attack that targeted several army positions at the same time. It said two of the other three suicide attackers in the assault in the government-held north-western city of Idlib were from foreign countries, including one who was identified as being from the Maldives.

Abu-Salha appears smiling in the video and speaks in broken Arabic.

“I want to rest in the afterlife, in heaven. There is nothing here and the heart is not resting,” he says. “Heaven is better. When people die they either go to heaven or hell. There is happiness beyond explanation.”


The video, released by Jabhat al-Nusra’s media arm, al-Manara al-Bayda, was posted on jihadi websites. It corresponded with Associated Press reporting about the attack.

Opposition forces previously identified the American who carried out the bombing as Abu Hurayra al-Amriki and said he was a US citizen. The name al-Amriki means “the American” in Arabic.

It’s unknown how many people were killed in the bombing. Opposition rebels with the Jabhat al-Nusra said Abu-Salha’s truck was laden with 16 tons of explosives to tear down the al-Fanar restaurant, a gathering place for Syrian troops. Other suicide attackers targeted nearby army positions.

Abu-Salha grew up in Florida and attended several colleges before dropping out and moving abroad.

Thousands of foreign fighters have come to Syria from around the world to fight against President Bashar Assad’s forces.

The war, which began in 2011, has since taken on strong sectarian overtones, pitting a Sunni-led insurgency that includes al-Qaida-inspired extremist groups against a government dominated by Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.