Tuesday, April 24, 2018
News Roundup

Suicide bomber in Syria was from South Florida, say U.S. officials

MIAMI — The young American suicide bomber who blew up a truck he was driving in Syria last weekend previously lived in Fort Pierce, law enforcement sources told the Miami Herald on Friday.

The man, in his 20s and believed to have been the first American suicide bomber in Syria, was identified by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday as Moner Mohammad Abusalha. She provided no other details about him.

Abu-Salha went by the nom de guerre Abu Hurayra al-Ameriki, or Abu Hurayra the American. It's unclear when he traveled to Syria or for how long before that he was in Fort Pierce, which is about 130 miles north of Miami.

Law enforcement officials were speaking Friday with the man's family and friends — some of them elsewhere in Florida — and tracing his movements, including his online activity, in the United States before he left for Syria. Federal authorities are investigating whether he was recruited or radicalized online.

In photos purportedly showing Abu-Salha in Syria, he appears smiling, with a reddish-brown beard. In one photo, he is holding a cat.

He was confirmed to have taken part in a joint suicide bombing on Sunday involving both al-Qaida's Syrian franchise, the Nusra Front, and the Islamic Front's Suqour al-Sham, according to Suqour spokesman Abu Farouk al-Shami, who spoke with McClatchy Newspapers via Skype.

"It was an operation between mujahedeen from both Suqour al-Sham and the Nusra Front," Abu Farouk said of the blast, which targeted a Syrian military position in Idlib province and included at least three bombers and tons of explosives. Abu-Salha "was well-known to us in Suqour al-Sham for his kindness and bravery in combat."

In a martyrdom video released on YouTube, titled "The American Martyrdom for the Nusra Front," the suicide bomber could be seen praying, playing with cats and preparing for his apparent mission. The video ends with a tremendous explosion that is said to have been from the bomb he detonated. Abu Farouk said the tape was authentic, but that could not be independently verified.

The Nusra Front rarely grants interviews to Western media, and spokesmen were unavailable for comment.

The U.S. government designated the group a terrorist organization in 2012, saying at the time that Nusra was an alias for al-Qaida in Iraq, which was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, to battle the U.S. presence there. That designation was recently updated to recognize that the organization is officially seen as an al-Qaida branch operating in Syria.

The office of Sen. Bill Nelson said the Florida Democrat has been briefed on the situation.

Comments
Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

Acknowledging the forecast for heavy rain much of the night, the Orioles postponed tonight's game against the Rays.The teams will play a doubleheader – single admission – on Saturday, May 12, when the Rays next visit.The Orioles are expec...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
How the Lightning did its best work on the Devils shorthanded

How the Lightning did its best work on the Devils shorthanded

TAMPA — The Lightning rolled past the Devils in five games of the Stanley Cup playoffs quarterfinal series largely because the penalty kill became a beast, killing off 16 of 19, including the final 15 when down a man.Two of those three goals al...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — A Lakewood High School student was killed and two others were injured when their car struck a tree just outside the campus on Tuesday afternoon, according to police.All three boys involved in the crash were 18 and seniors, officials ...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
‘Freak gust’ gives Ruskin park residents a fright

‘Freak gust’ gives Ruskin park residents a fright

TAMPA — For a few moments late Monday night, Jeff Hinton’s new home in Ruskin’s Paradise Mobile Home and RV Park felt less like paradise and more like his native Iowa’s "Tornado Alley."In an instant, the rain that had come in waves through the day hi...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

Marriott CEO: Our three-hotel bet at Water Street Tampa reflects how Tampa is evolving

TAMPA — The world’s biggest hotel company already has 29 properties in the Tampa Bay area, but its CEO says a plan to put more than 1,400 rooms in three Marriott-branded hotels within a few blocks of each other says something about how Tampa is evolv...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

Study ranks Florida No. 8 for most aggressive drivers

If you’ve ever complained about other motorists on the road, you may have been justified. The Sunshine State ranked No. 8 on GasBuddy.com’s list of states with the most aggressive drivers."Our findings indicate that states with densely populated citi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

First curbside delivery, now Amazon leaves packages with no one in the car

Amazon is taking the growing curb-side delivery trend a step further — now shoppers don’t even have to be inside their cars to get their items.The online retailer announced Tuesday it has begun delivering packages to newer cars with OnStar service in...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

For months, NFL fans have wondered what the Bucs might do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's draft, producing a wide range of answers, each with passionate support from some of their fans.But as draft nears, and as the interest level in a talented gro...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
Top places to hang with your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Top places to hang with your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Dogs are more welcome in public than ever these days. Bars and restaurants are making themselves more pet-friendly, and you can find weekly "yappy hours" happening at spots all over Tampa Bay. Add to that a healthy number of dog-approved events and ...
Updated: 2 hours ago