Moner Abu-Salha: Before Becoming a Jihadi Suicide Bomber, He Was a South Florida Bro

Categories: News

via Casey Hamilton
Abu-Salha in middle school.
His childhood was painfully normal.
By all accounts, Abu-Salha's childhood was about as normal and suburban as it gets. His father, Mohammad Abu-Salah, owns a grocery store in Melbourne. (It's not clear where he's from originally; the Times reports that he's Palestinian, but the Daily Mail says he came from Jordan.) His mother, Michelle, is an American who converted to Islam, the Mail reports. And the family spent Moner's childhood in a quiet gated community called the Lakes at Sandridge just north of Vero Beach.

Moner was by all accounts a typical neighborhood kid, shooting hoops and causing minor trouble. "They were doing the same things my kids do,'' neighbor Rob Hill tells the Miami Herald of Moner and his friends. "Throwing rocks."

If he was particularly into politics or religion, it didn't show to his classmates. "Mo was all about going to Dunkin' Donuts," a friend from high school tells the Daily Mail.

A photo tweeted by an Islamic group in Syria allegedly shows Abu-Salha before detonating a truck bomb.
He might have been radicalized on a trip to Jordan in 2012.
Moner dropped out of Sebastian River High School in 2010 before graduating, the Daily Mail reports, but later received a degree in Fort Pierce, where he lived with an older brother. He attended Seminole State College for a time, but again quit studying and, in 2012, moved in with relatives in Jordan, according to the Mail.

When he returned, a friend tells the British paper, he was significantly more religiously observant, wearing long robes and regularly reading the Koran and singing prayers. At some point in 2013, he again traveled to the Middle East and his family lost contact with him until they learned about his death in a suicide bombing last week in Syria.

One unnamed relative tells the Arab Daily News that they believe Moner was "brainwashed" and might have spent time at a camp in Texas before traveling to the war-torn nation. His parents, who so far have declined to give interviews, have cooperated with federal officials and are distraught and baffled, neighbors say, over their son's fate.

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22 comments
swissonbrownrye
swissonbrownrye

Well, his life's over. What did he do? Write a beautiful symphony? Work with orphans or some charity feeding hungry people? Get a college degree and maybe help humanity? Settle down and raise a family and give something back to the community? Uhm, no, he blew himself up along with a truck. Now he'll be forgotten in a few weeks. Faithful jihadi, following Muhammad's teaching.

Dean Os
Dean Os

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything....

Vince Witty
Vince Witty

Maybe he was tricked, forced into it.

Carlos Iglesia
Carlos Iglesia

Nothing "typical" about that kid. Just look at his name, his eyes, his jihad, the beard, that religion.. easy to spot at any airport, sorry to say.

Ken Argüelles
Ken Argüelles

My guess, no midnight basketball to keep him away from extremists.

Nicole Mars
Nicole Mars

I fail to see why speculation of the origins of his extremist idealogy is useful at this point. Is the intention of this article suppose to tell its audience "Oh he used to be "normal" and then became the first American jihadist--it could happen to YOU"? Seems to flirt with sensationalism.

Jayan Bertrand
Jayan Bertrand

Or maybe he had a malleable brain like most americans

Brent Acosta
Brent Acosta

from suicide doors to suicide cause Kyle Awon

Jul Farinha
Jul Farinha

Depression realizing life sucks being poor or average.

Chgo Dave
Chgo Dave

let me guess Muslim parents?

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