FBI Most Wanted suspect fugitive Ahmad Abousamra could be using his computer skills learned in the United States to run an ISIS social media campaign to recruit others to join the terror group, U.S. officials believe.
The FBI first placed Abousamra — a 33-year-old who was born in France, raised in Massachusetts, and holds dual American-Syrian citizenship — on its Most Wanted list in December after he was indicted in 2009 in a Boston federal court on nine different terrorism-related charges.
He is accused of making multiple trips to Pakistan and Yemen where he allegedly attempted to obtain military training to fight American soldiers overseas, an FBI info sheet on the suspect reveals.
He also faces charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists; conspiring to kill in a foreign country; and making false statement, according to the FBI. Abousamra is believed to have fled the country in 2006, three years before the indictment.
But it appears that Abousamra's true talent for ISIS lies in social media, according to U.S. officials. ABC News reported in September that he is believed
to be in Syria helping to rally recruits and win sympathies for ISIS online.
U.S. officials told ABC News that Abousamra traveled to the Middle East in 2004 and, with two others, essentially launched al-Qaida's social media effort to recruit and gain support in Iraq. That group would later come to work for ISIS, sources told the news website.
What could make Abousamra an asset to ISIS is his effective understanding of American and Western culture. The son of a prominent physician, he grew up in an upscale Boston suburb, attended private school, and made the dean's list at Northeastern University.
"ISIS understands very well that, in order for an act of terrorism to be effective, it needs to actually terrorize people," Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, told ABC News. "The act of communication that follows the act of violence is almost as important as the act of violence itself."
Neumann told ABC News he was not familiar with Abousamra's work, but added that ISIS' success in spreading its message through social media to English-speaking supporters in Western countries has been effective and made the terror organization stronger.
"If you do have a European language ability, if you have computer skills, if you are quite clever and you come join ISIS, you are likely to be used for social media output," he said. "A lot of Westerners do not have formal military training, but they do have precisely those skills."
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