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Refugee left Iran, came to America, watched YouTube and went to fight for ISIS

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Refugee left Iran, came to America, watched YouTube and went to fight for ISIS

We've heard about American citizens who become self-radicalized and perpetrate violence in the United States in the name of Islam. But what about people who come to America only to return to the Middle East to engage in jihad? 

Recently unsealed court documents in Maine reveal the story of Adnan Fazeli, a man who fled Iran to find a better life for his family in America, but went back to the Middle East to fight and die with ISIS. 

Investigators learned about Fazeli with the help of several informants, including a close relative.

One informant told the FBI that Fazeli had left Iran in 2007 or 2008 after he was told he would soon be arrested by the Iranian government for dissidence. Fazeli's family traveled to Syria and Lebanon before coming to the United States as refugees and settling in Maine. 

In 2014, an informant told the FBI that Fazeli had grown increasingly angry during his time in America, and would spend hours watching Islamic videos on YouTube. 

In August 2013, Fazeli told people close to him that he was going to visit his father in Dubai. He then boarded a plane for Turkey, and was scheduled to return to the U.S. in November, but never made his flight. 

A year and a half later, government investigators were told by a family member that Fazeli had likely died while fighting for ISIS in Lebanon.

An investigation was opened to determine if anyone in the U.S. had assisted Fazeli in any way. No criminal charges were filed against anyone associated with him. 

Unfortunately, stories like Fazeli's are becoming more familiar. 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man who set off bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, was radicalized by reading militant doctrine online.

In 2015, Syed Farook and Tafsheen Malik opened fire at a holiday luncheon for county health workers in San Bernadino, California after becoming self-radicalized via the internet. 

Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando last June, was also radicalized online. 

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