ISIS spreads it message of fear through a sophisticated social media operation, and the mastermind of the ISIS online strategy is an American citizen from a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. law enforcement officials suspect.
Ahmad Abousamra, 33, fled the U.S. for Syria in 2006 after questioning by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2006, according to ABC News. The report explains that top law enforcement sources believe the former Dean’s List student at Boston’s Northeastern University has put his online and computer skills to work for ISIS, engineering the most effective means to distribute the Islamic terror group’s propaganda through the internet.
Though born in France, Abousamra holds dual U.S. and Syrian citizenship and grew up in privilege in the United States, the son of a respected endocrinologist at Massachusetts Genera Hospital. The family made its home in Stoughton, a suburb of about 26,000 less than 20 miles south of Boston.
The FBI has made the search for Abousamra a priority since 2009, and the American has been on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list since December, with a $50,000 reward for a tipster who can lead to his capture and has made several trips to Pakistan and Yemen for terrorist paramilitary training, according to the FBI.
Abousamra, who is now believed to live in Syria with his wife and child, graduated from Northeastern with a computer science degree and is said to possess high-level computer skills.
ISIS has been highly successful in disseminating its perverse message of violence through Twitter and other social media outlets, often written in perfect and idiomatic English.
ISIS has also produced numerous, professional-quality videos — including the two recent videos that depicted the murders by beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
“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 Centre for the Study of Radicalization, told ABC.
“The act of communication that follows the act of violence is almost as important as the act of violence itself.”
Neumann said that any fluent English-speaker who joins ISIS would likely be recruited into the group’s online media arm. Proficiency in computer science would only be a plus.