Update 7:45 p.m. EDT: The White House has confirmed McCain's death.
"We were aware of U.S. citizen Douglas McAuthur McCain’s presence in Syria and can confirm his death," said a statement released by Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council. "We continue to use every tool we possess to disrupt and dissuade individuals from traveling abroad for violent jihad and to track and engage those who return."
Douglas McArthur McCain, an American citizen from California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the extremist Islamic State in Syria, NBC News reported Tuesday. The Free Syrian Army, the rebel faction that fought the militants (aka ISIS), discovered they had killed an American when they found $800 in cash and a U.S. passport on McCain’s body.
The revelation that McCain, 33, was among the Muslim extremists comes two months after 15 Somali-Americans from Minnesota were believed to have linked up with ISIS in Syria. Senior Obama administration officials told NBC that dozens of Americans are believed to be fighting with various jihadist groups, a “handful” of them with ISIS, which has killed thousands of Yazidis in northern Iraq as well as American journalist James Foley.
McCain was active on social media, where he went by the name “Duale Khalid” on Twitter and “Duale ThaslaveofAllah” on Facebook. His Twitter bio reads “It’s Islam over everything,” and a tweet from May 14 says he “reverted to Islam to 10 years ago” and called it “the best thing that ever happen [sic] to me.”
— Circa (@Circa) August 26, 2014
On June 26, he retweeted a tweet that in part said “pray for ISIS.”
McCain's Facebook bio says he was born in Chicago, lived in San Diego and studied at San Diego City College. NBC News said he moved from Chicago to Minnesota before moving again to California after high school.
Those who knew McCain said he was an aspiring rapper, and classmates from Robbbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minnesota, said he was “always smiling” and liked to joke and play basketball.
“He was a goofball in high school,” an unnamed classmate said. “Doug was a fun guy to be around. Played basketball, joked a lot, had a small sense of humor. Got along with most … Wasn't the best athlete, but liked to play.”
McCain went to great lengths to be recognized for his rapping, including performing at an underground rap show near Stockholm. Kevin Törnström Kohlin, one of the Swedes McCain met on the trip, said he talked about religion with McCain and “he respected my Christianity.”
While in California, McCain worked at African Spice, a Somali restaurant, and frequented a San Diego mosque.
“He was a normal guy, who was social, open-minded, liked to smile always, and always wanted to be a good Muslim,” said an unnamed acquaintance of McCain’s from African Spice.
It’s unclear exactly when McCain joined ISIS, but in April, he traveled to Turkey, a frequent way station for people heading the war in Syria.