Source: U.S. man helping ISIS on social media

By By Michael Pearson and Shimon Prokupecz CNN
Published On: Sep 05 2014 10:06:18 AM EDT
Updated On: Sep 05 2014 04:27:37 PM EDT

CNN

(CNN) -

He's fluent in both English and Arabic, and if his college degree in computers is any indication, he has a way with technology. Then there's his interest in radical Islam.

Put it all together, and authorities say former Boston resident and U.S. citizen Ahmad Abousamra could be a good fit inside the ISIS social media machine that's become renowned in recent weeks for spewing brutal propaganda across social media -- messages meant both to terrify and recruit Westerners.

There's no specific evidence pointing to Abousamra's involvement in the terror group's social media campaign, but federal investigators think he may have joined the group and is helping with online efforts, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Abousamra, who holds dual U.S. and Syrian citizenship, is wanted by the FBI on terrorism charges issued in 2009. They include providing material support to terrorists. There's a $50,000 reward for his capture.

According to the FBI, Abousamra repeatedly traveled to Pakistan and Yemen seeking "military training for the purpose of killing American soldiers overseas."

He returned to the United States but left after FBI terrorism investigators questioned him.

He was last believed to be living in Syria, according to the FBI.

According to ABC, Abousamra grew up in Boston. His father was a doctor, and he went to a private Catholic high school and a public school before attending Northeastern University, where he made the dean's list, according to ABC, which cited school officials.

ISIS appears to have a well-funded, well-organized social media and video production effort. Its videos are slickly produced, with high production values, experts say. And ISIS imagery has proven tough to stamp out.

Twitter lagged behind ISIS on efforts to remove images of the decapitation of U.S. journalists, CNN national security analyst Fran Townsend noted.

"We've seen propaganda campaigns from al Qaeda before, but nothing that acts that quickly in real-time events that's able to target tactically, and that's a real concern to American officials," she said.

Juliette Kayyem, also a CNN national security analyst, said social media is helping ISIS, which also calls itself the Islamic State, amplify its message.

"They are a serious threat, and they are using social media to make themselves even bigger in that regard," she said.

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