- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2016

An American couple who joined the Islamic State in Syria were killed in an airstrike over the weekend, depriving the terror army of one of its most conspicuous woman recruiters and propagandists.

Umm Issa Al-Amrikiah, who maintained her own social media channel, and her husband, Abu Issa Al-Amriki, were killed in a strike on their home, according to Islamic State posts on social media.

“Umm Issa Al-Amrikiah was one of the first and a leading American ISIS sympathizer to be very active on Telegram,” said Steve Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Telegram is one of Islamic State’s favorite platforms. Created by an exile Russian tech entrepreneur, Telegram is encrypted against interception by the U.S. or anyone else. It offers secure messaging and media channels through which Islamic State followers and members can plan operations, recruit and view propaganda. Amrikiah had attracted over 1,000 followers on Telegram, considered a large number for a private platform devoted to killing people.

There are no available photos of the pair. But researchers believe they were American based on their messages, what other jihadis say about them on social media and on the fact their deaths were announced in various Islamic State-linked channels on Telegram.

For months she maintained active social media accounts and was trying to recruit Belgian Muslims a few days before the Islamic State, also known was ISIL, bombed the Brussels airport and subway train on March 22. After the slaughter of 32 innocents, Amrikiah justified the attack on social media.

The U.S. government said last year that about 250 Americans have attempted to joint Islamic State in Syria, with nearly 20 percent of them women.

Islamic State propagandist Omar Hussain, a former British grocery store security guard, instructed women interested in traveling to Syria, Islamic State’s homebase, to watch Amrikiah’s channel.

“She is a wife of a Mujahid who is also very active on da’wah [propaganda] and helping people in,” Hussain posted, according to a translation by MEMRI. “She is available for advice on hijrah [migration] as well as general information about Sham [Syria]. It is, however, advised that sisters from the West use multiple accounts prior [to] doing hijrah to delete their account they were using to msg the sister.”

Hussain was ordered offline by Islamic State higher-ups as punishment for saying on social media that it was too difficult to enter Syria through Turkey and that jihadis should travel to Libya instead.

Amrikiah and her husband’s deaths were announced on social media. The writer expressed hope the two are now in paradise.

“I confirmed it that brother Abu Isa Al Amriki and his wife Umm Isa Al Amrikiah were hit in their house by the airstrikes and they both attained shahadah [martyrdom] few days ago,” said one post. “May Allah grant both of them shahada and make them enter jannatal firdous [paradise]. He was a really helpful brother.”

At the Pentagon on Thursday, Press Secretary Peter Cook confirmed the couple were killed in an allied airstrike on April 22 near the Syrian town of Al-Bab.

He identified the wife as Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammed and described her as an Australian national, not an American.

MEMRI described her an a American. Mr. Stalinski said it is normal procedure for a jihadi to picked a nickname that designates where they are from — in this case “Amrikiah” for the wife.

Mr. Cook identified the husband as Abu Sa’ad al-Sudani and the name “Amriki.”

“It would be very odd and unique for them to use a different country in their jihadi nickname,” he said. “There are many fighters with Australia or Sudan in their names to highlight where they are from or lived at one point. I don’t know of any other examples of foreign jihadis using a country name they weren’t connected to.”

Mr. Cook said the husband was involved in planning attacks against United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Both al-Sudani and his wife were active in recruiting foreign fighters in efforts to inspire attacks against Western interests,” he said.

Another female Islamic State member, Umm Sayyaf, held an online chat on April 10 with Amrikiah, who said she “can’t wait” to attain martyrdom.

“May we all die in dar al Islam Ameen [land of Islam],” she said.

Sadly, from the West’s standpoint, there are many American Muslim women willing to take her place by creating multiple media accounts and acting as an active recruiter and propagandist, Mr. Stalinsky said.

She debuted her Telegram channel last January.

She said, “I condemn all acts of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims and strongly condemn every coconut [Muslim on the outside, white on the inside] Muslim who abides in Dar Al-Kufr [the West]. I will be posting daily reminders, pictures of Sham, short articles and general information about my life here in Sham.”

A later post said, “There is nothing more relaxing than sitting under the sun, with tea, reciting Quran.”

Amarnath Amarasingam of the University of Waterloo in Ontario has been conducting research on foreigners traveling to join Islamic State. He relayed one of Amrikiah’s rants in January against men trying to communicate with her, according to the Mirror newspaper.

“I laugh at your pitiful state. Sham is not a tea party, so don’t make excuses that you didn’t know of this prohibition,” she said. “If you don’t know that messaging a sister is forbidden then stay in Dar-Al-Kufr, sit back with the women if that’s what [you] truly love. Enjoy the company of women where you are. We need such people here in Sham. We need men.”

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