What would make this National Guardsman, want to join the terrorist group Islamic State? As more Americans take the plunge to attack innocent people, the greater the risk for attacks on U.S. soil in the near future.
[quote_box_center] From NBC Nightly News: Just a few weeks ago a Catholic-born, American man –- a former military school student, special forces aspirant, law enforcement officer and bodybuilder — set off on a path far from any he’d envisioned for himself as a kid in North Carolina: on the other side of the world, in Lebanon, he was trying to figure out how to get into Syria and join ISIS, the most radical, bloodthirsty terrorist group of our times.
Don Morgan, 44, said he was answering a higher calling.
“It was months and months and months of asking Allah to guide me or to give me the answers I needed,” he told NBC News in an exclusive interview this summer in Beirut.
Morgan answered our questions on camera as asked by a freelance journalist. Morgan believed U.S. and other law enforcement agencies were already on his trail. He said he knew his desire to join ISIS would likely get him into trouble with American authorities.
The factors that drove Morgan to embrace the ideology of the terror group responsible for beheading two American journalists and killing thousands in Syria and Iraq appear to be rooted in more than faith, based on the extensive conversation with Morgan himself and some of those who know him. Personal disappointments and desires and exposure to increasingly radical social media also contributed to Morgan’s actions.
Most crucial in Morgan’s case may have been the order and discipline that he says he found in practicing Islam –and in ISIS’s interpretation of the Muslim faith and its determination to spread it in the form of a caliphate.
So in place of the order of a military life, this southern son turned to a different, brutal, terrifying kind of discipline and belonging.
‘A practicing Muslim’
Just days after Morgan spoke to NBC News, he was picked up by U.S. officials at JFK airport in New York City. He was arrested not for links to terrorism, however, but on a weapons charge: he’s accused of trying to sell a rifle online. Morgan had previously been convicted of a felony, so it’s illegal for him to possess a gun. An FBI agent testified at a court hearing in Brooklyn that investigators had been following his on-line statements of support for ISIS and his desire to join the group. Morgan pleaded not guilty.
“I think [if I go back to the US] there’s a strong possibility that they’ll charge me with supporting terrorist organizations and with supporting terrorist activities,” Morgan had said.
But Morgan does not view himself as a terrorist. “I would not classify myself as a radical, but by western definition I would be classified as a radical,” he said. “I just consider myself to be a practicing Muslim.”
Morgan’s commitment to Islam has taken different forms over the years. Morgan said he was first exposed to the religion as a university student in a course called “Contemporary Islam.” But he didn’t actually convert until some years later, after failing to complete the boot camp that would have allowed him to deploy with the National Guard to Kuwait during Desert Storm. He then found out that local law enforcement, where he served as a sheriff’s deputy, was not the brotherhood he sought either. Continue Reading