The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants the public's help in identifying a merciless masked militant with a "North American accent" who appears to help execute Syrian soldiers in a barbaric Islamic State group (ISIS) recruitment video.
The agency released an excerpt of the disturbing video published online Sept. 19. The business and news website Business Insider posted the excerpt.
Story continues below video.
In a statement, the FBI notes
the masked militant "alternates seamlessly between English and Arabic in pro-ISIL pronouncements intended to appeal to a Western audience." The Islamic State group also is known as ISIL.
"Dressed in desert camouflage and wearing a shoulder holster, the masked man can be seen standing in front of purported prisoners as they dig their own graves and then later presiding over their executions," the statement reads.
The man in the video describes the people being executed as soldiers of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
"We’re hoping that someone might recognize this individual and provide us with key pieces of information," Michael Steinbach, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division said in the statement. "No piece of information is too small."
FBI Director James Comey has said
there may be about a dozen Americans fighting alongside Islamic State group militants, and that the agency is looking as well for tips about Americans who might leave the country to join jihadist groups.
"The threat of U.S. citizens traveling overseas to fight alongside terrorist groups is not new," the FBI statement said. "Two years ago, a Chicago man was imprisoned
for planning to travel to Somalia in 2010 to join al Shabaab.
Last year, an Albanian man living in Brooklyn was sentenced to 15 years for attempting to travel to Pakistan to engage in violent jihad. Last month, a New York man pled guilty to attempting to travel to Yemen in 2012 to support al Qaida. On Saturday, a 19-year-old Chicago man
was arrested for allegedly attempting to travel overseas to join ISIL."
If the masked terrorist turns out to be American or Canadian, he would be the first North American jihadist to commit a war crime on camera, according to CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.
"Clearly ISIS had a calculated step to be able to put this guy on camera," Frank Cilluffo, a security analyst at George Washington University, told CNN. "Why? Because he seems American. The message is aimed at a Western audience."
But a State Department official told CNN Monday efforts to counter the Islamic State group's online recruiting work.
"We have evidence that there are young people who are not joining because we have somehow interceded," Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel told the cable news network.
"They're reading the messages, they're hearing the messages — not just from us but from the hundreds of Islamic clerics who have said that this is a perversion of Islam, from the hundreds of Islamic scholars who have said the same thing."
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