VERO BEACH, Fla. (TheBlaze/AP) — The American man who launched a suicide bombing against Syrian government troops was called "a real activist" and a "full Muslim" by a friend of his brother and grew up in Central Florida and attended several colleges in the state before moving abroad.
U.S. officials identified the bomber as Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha of Florida, but have said little else. Records show a person with that name lived with his family in a stucco home in a gated community plunked among the Orange Groves on the edge of Vero Beach.
His nom de guerre was Abu Huraira al-Amriki, “the American," according to the Washington Post.
A member of the neighborhood homeowners association said the family had moved twice within the neighborhood since they lost their home to foreclosure a few years back. A spokesman for Seminole State College of Florida said Abu-Salha enrolled in the school in August of 2011 but never graduated.
More from the Post:
Dozens of Americans have traveled to Syria since the conflict there started, raising concerns that some could return to the United States to launch attacks. Preventing that outcome has become one of the FBI’s top counterterrorism priorities, and officials have charged several people with attempting to support terrorism in Syria.
Orlando Taylor, 25, told the Post he was close friends with Abu-Salha’s older brother, Mahrous, in Vero Beach, where the parents still live — and considered Abu-Salha "a real activist."
“He was a full Muslim,” Taylor told the Post in a telephone interview, also saying he "was definitely into his religion.”
[sharequote align="center"]“He spoke in tongues. He sang the Koran and all that."[/sharequote]
“He spoke in tongues. He sang the Koran and all that,” Taylor said, adding that Abu-Salha would travel to take part in religious events, including “fast festivals” where participants go without eating for days.But Taylor also said he "never saw any weird side" to Abu-Salha. “Honestly, he was just a regular person,” Taylor added to the Post. “He was one of the nicest people I knew...Very respectful."