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Mother’s Death in Syria Raises US Eyebrows

Published: 02/06/2013 08:18:11 PM GMT
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MICHIGAN - The killing of an American female convert in an ambush by regime forces in Syria is raising eyebrows in the United States over the cause of her travel to the boiling Arab country.“Keep us in your prayers,” Grand (more)

MICHIGAN - The killing of an American female convert in an ambush by regime forces in Syria is raising eyebrows in the United States over the cause of her travel to the boiling Arab country.

“Keep us in your prayers,” Grandmother Carole Mansfield told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Her granddaughter Nicole Mansfield, 33, was reported killed in an ambush by regime troops in Syria this week.

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Syrian state media said Mansfield, a single mother from the Midwestern city of Flint, was killed with two other Westerners in an attack on an opposition mission in northwestern Syria.

Syrian state media showed footage on Friday of a dead woman in a full black hijab and a picture of Mansfield's identification, saying she was part of an extremist group caught in an ambush.

The government-run media said the group was ambushed while exploring a checkpoint and that government forces found weapons on the group and documents, including a sketch of a security building.

Syrian media also showed the passport of a British man, Ali alManasfi, 22.

Security sources said it was not clear what Mansfield and alManasfi were doing or which opposition group they were with.

Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted a Syrian army officer as saying it was believed the third person killed was Canadian because his cellphone listed numerous calls to Canada.

Mansfield's daughter said she has no idea why her mother went to Syria.

"My mother was NOT a terrorist," the daughter, Triana Lynn, wrote on Facebook cited by Reuters.

"She went there for a reason that is unknown," she said. "But believe this-SHE WAS FORCED TO STAY."

Lindsay Godwin, a spokeswoman at the FBI's Washington field office, said the FBI "is looking into the situation that happened in Syria."

More than 80,000 people have been killed in more than two years of fighting between Assad's security forces and opposition forces.

The fighting has forced more than one million Syrians to flee their home to neighboring countries in addition to the displacement of two millions others inside the country.

Life Purpose

Mansfield's grandmother said she was not convinced her granddaughter was in Syria to fight.

“She was a caring person. A firm believer in what she believed in. And a giving person,” she said.

“If you were down and out she would have been the first to come to your rescue.”

Known within the family as "Nikki," Nicole Mansfield was a high school dropout and teenage mother who was raised Baptist.

Relatives said Mansfield appeared lost and wanted a cause to believe in.

In her late 20s, after an unsuccessful marriage, she converted to Islam after meeting Muslims online.

Her family said Mansfield attended a local mosque but never showed signs of radicalism.

She married a Muslim immigrant after her conversion, but family members said they never met him and Nicole never talked about him.

Her Pinterest social media account contains as many references to shoes, dogs and other animals as it does to Islam. The Islamic-themed pictures appear moderate and pious.

"She was a peacemaker who always tried to make everyone happy, and I think she went over there and she got brainwashed," her aunt Monica Mansfield Speelman said.

"It's not in Nicole's nature to even think of throwing a grenade.”

Experts say there are many questions about her travel to warn-torn Syria.

"It's a huge step going from living in Flint, Michigan, to taking up arms against the Syrian government," Mary Ellen O'Toole, a former FBI profiler and a human behavioral expert, told Reuters."And there's a big difference between converting to Islam and going on a James Bond journey into a war zone."

Reproduced with permission from