- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014
AP source: American militant said killed in Syria

NEW HOPE, Minn. (AP) - An American man believed to have been killed in Syria was there to fight alongside an extremist militant group, most likely the Islamic State, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Investigators were aware that Douglas McAuthur McCain was in the country to fight with the militant group, but they did not yet have his body and were still trying to verify information about his death, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss by name an ongoing investigation and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

A relative, Kenneth McCain, told The Associated Press that the State Department called to tell his family that Douglas McCain had been killed in Syria. “We do not know if he was fighting anyone,” he said.

U.S. officials, concerned about what they say is the growing threat posed by the extremist Islamic State group, say surveillance flights and spy planes have begun over Syria on the orders of President Barack Obama. The move could pave the way for airstrikes against the group, which controls a large part of eastern Syria and crossed into Iraq earlier this year. The militant group also killed an American, journalist James Foley, and is holding an American woman hostage.

It was unclear when McCain, who had most recently lived in San Diego, traveled to Syria. He grew up outside Minneapolis in the town of New Hope.

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Q-and-A on Westerners who join the fight in Syria

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Douglas McAuthur McCain, an American killed in Syria while fighting with the Islamic State group, was part of a growing number of Americans and other foreigners recruited by terror groups to help them wage war in the Mideast.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Wednesday that McCain was fighting for ISIL in Syria in a conflict that now includes thousands of combatants from around 50 countries.

Some questions and answers about Westerners traveling to join the battle in Syria:

WHO ARE THESE TRAVELERS?

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St. Anthony sued over rejection of Islamic center

ST. ANTHONY, Minn. (AP) - The U.S. government is suing the city of St. Anthony for alleged religious discrimination for rejecting a proposed Islamic center in 2012, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said Wednesday.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, alleges that the St. Anthony Village City Council treated the group’s application for a conditional use permit at the St. Anthony Business Center on less-than-equal terms as other, non-religious permits to assemble.

“Freedom of religion and the right to assembly peaceably are enshrined for all Americans in the Bill of Rights,” Luger said in a news release. “The people of Abu Huraira have a right to assembly peaceably - they have a right to practice their religion, and it’s our job to enforce that right.”

The lawsuit contends the Minneapolis suburb violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, and that denying the permit made it difficult for the group’s members to practice their faith. The suit seeks a court order requiring St. Anthony to allow the Abu Huraira Islamic Center to maintain a worship space in the basement of the St. Anthony Business Center.

In a statement Wednesday, the city said there was no discrimination.

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Life in prison for man who killed mother, nephew

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A man convicted of killing his mother and teenage nephew with a sword in Minneapolis has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Ishmael Roberts was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder in the October 2012 deaths of 57-year-old Beatrice Wilson and her 14-year-old grandson, Peter.

The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/YXuyGkhttp://strib.mn/YXuyGk ) reports police say Roberts, now 25, showed up at his mother’s home in the middle of the night and killed the two. A sheath used for a samurai sword was recovered in the home.

Roberts was arrested in Waterloo, Iowa after stealing his mother’s car, then crashing it while fleeing from police.

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