People in a small Texas town are expressing disbelief after learning one of their own residents allegedly applied to work for ISIS.
Warren Clark, 33, was one of several “travellers” identified in a report by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism as having travelled to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq since 2011.
The program’s director says it received a letter using the pseudonym “Abu Muhammad al-Ameriki” from a neighbourhood in Mosul, Iraq — which was taken back from ISIS this past summer — that is alleged to be a cover letter, with a resume attached.
The resume included an email address, educational background and work experience, all of which helped GSU determine “Muhammad” was Clark, the 33-year-old University of Houston graduate.
It’s news that has left Sugar Land, Texas, shaken.
“Brainwashed pretty much,” resident Raul Belman told NBC affiliate KPRC. “Everything that you read, you know, you get brainwashed.”
Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of GSU’s program, said sources in Texas assisted in verifying that Clark became radicalized.
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Clark graduated from the University of Houston in 2008, with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in global business, and NBC reports he is from a middle-class church family with military ties.
Four years before graduating, in 2004, he converted to Islam and began researching his religion on the internet, and a friend from high school reportedly said he ended up on radical sites.
The cover letter reads as a job application with Clark wanting to work for ISIS “teaching English to students in The Islamic State.”
He goes on to say his goal would be “to create a supportive classroom environment and to guide my students in building a solid English foundation.”
Touting his education background, he explains he’s taught students of all ages at several schools — the resume allegedly points out he was a substitute teacher in Texas and taught English in Saudi Arabia — and “I consider working at the University of Mosul to be a great way of continuing my career.”
Those in Sugar Land are left wondering why.
“It’s a shame, especially the threat that ISIS has become for the entire world and especially the United States being the number 1 target for the organization,” said Sugar Land resident Jesus Moreno in an interview with KPRC.
Hughes told NBC he has confirmed through sources that Clark has since joined ISIS and is believed to still be alive. The FBI declined to comment to NBC.
In the Program on Extremism’s report, 64 Americans were identified as jihadist travellers who travelled to Syria and/or Iraq since 2011, and were affiliated with jihadist groups active in those countries. Of that number, only 12 have returned to the U.S., and nine of them have been arrested and charged.