Moner Abu-Salha: Before Becoming a Jihadi Suicide Bomber, He Was a South Florida Bro
If you had stumbled across Moner Abu-Salha's Facebook profile a year ago, you would have found a recently updated page fitting for any suburban South Florida bro. On June 24, he updated his profile pic to a selfie flexing his biceps in the bathroom mirror and his cover photo to a Miami Heat logo. He listened to Jay Z and Mac Miller and watched Family Guy and Man vs. Food.
Photos via Casey Hamilton and Moner Abu-Salha's Facebook page A middle school yearbook photo of Abu-Salha (left) and a Facebook profile picture uploaded in 2012.
Today, his family and U.S. intelligence agencies are wrestling with how the same guy became radicalized so quickly that less than 12 months later, he blew up a suicide truck bomb in Syria, becoming the first known American jihadi killed in that conflict.
Here's what we know about the South Florida jihadi so far.
He really liked basketball.
via Moner Abu-Salha's Facebook Moner Abu-Salha's profile page
Few of Abu-Salha's neighbors recall speaking with him much in the suburban Vero Beach development where he grew up, but everyone seems to remember how much he loved playing hoops.
"He'd play basketball with any hoop anywhere he could find one," neighbor Mark Hill tells the New York Times. "He was out there playing all the time."
When he was in eighth or ninth grade, he earned a place on a traveling team called the Indian River Warriors, where teammates tell the Times he wasn't the best player but brought enthusiasm to the court. And he was evidently a big enough Heat fan to plaster his Facebook page with the team logo shortly after Miami won a second consecutive championship last year.