They often say persistence pays off. This is the case for a substitute teacher in Texas who decided it was time for a career change.
The Muslim man decided he was going to join ISIS but did not know where to start.
Instead of doing as many terror supporters do and travel to the Middle East, Warren Clark used an approach that had served him well in the past. Clark created a cover letter and resume to send to the terrorist network.
It seems that Clark felt his years of experience teaching English was just what Islamic State was looking for. He did not want to battle on the front lines, or even train to fight for the cause.
The 33-year-old graduate of the University of Houston used his job search skills to seek out the terrorist network.
Suddenly working with ISIS became his dream job.
Clark worked on fine-tuning his application packet. He was taking the time and effort to formally apply for a teaching position that did not exist.
To somewhat hide his identity, Clark did what some young applicants attempt to do. He changed critical details on his resume to make it seem better, including his name.
Clark wanted a name that seemed more believable, so he became Abu Muhammad al-Ameriki. Using the pen name, he politely explained the fact that he was born and raised in the United States gave him an upper hand for the position.
Using only the most polished of language, he wrote about his years of teaching English in America. He also shared that he moved to Saudi Arabia to continue to teach English.
The letter and resume that Clark was able to get to ISIS were what ended up giving him away.
A polished resume and friendly cover letter soon became part of a more massive research project for a group of researchers at the Washington DC-based college. The George Washington group penned a 116-page report about Americans who travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.
Clark was among a small group of jihadists who longed to leave America to join ISIS.
His application packet spoke volumes about this deep desire as he shared:
“I was born and raised in the United States and have always loved teaching others and learning from others as well. My work background is largely in English and I consider working at the University of Mosul to be a great way of continuing my career.”
The team at George Washington University uncovered evidence that Clark did, in fact, get his wish. It seems he left Texas and is now a full-fledged member of ISIS. It is not known if he is alive at this time.
Researchers were able to group Americans traveling to Iraq and Syria to join the terrorist network into three categories. They tend to be pioneers, network travelers or loners.
Americans who sought out ISIS in the early days fall into the group of pioneers. This group tended to be carefully trained and highly experienced before leaving the United States.
Because they already had desirable skills like military training, a pioneer usually hit the ground running in Syria. They were early supporters and also quickly traveled up through the ranks of ISIS.
It is not out of the question for a pioneer to survive many years within ISIS and hold a higher level of power within the group.
Only 6.3% of the jihadists included in this study fall into this group. Pioneers are rare and highly rewarded for their efforts.
As ISIS gained more attention worldwide, the next group of Americans pushed to join the ranks. These are the networked travelers.
Networked travelers are usually well-supported via their networks. They are not out to break into ISIS as an individual, but instead following in family traditions or traveling with like-minded friends.
This group will become soldiers and not often leaders for the terrorist network. They are Americans that travel in mass and depend on the financial support of those back in the United States.
The group also looks to many in America to help them logistically along their journey. They are not creating their path but using years of experiences from others to find the best travel routes.
Americans who use personal networks to gain access to ISIS make up the bulk of those who join the group. In this study, they accounted for over eighty-seven percent of the jihadists.
The final group of Americans joining ISIS falls into the category of being loners. They do not have direct connections to Syria or Iraq.
This group often seems to bumble their way to the Middle East, and somehow figure out a way to connect with the highly secretive organization.
It seems that Clark may have fallen into the loner group. He was not able to network his way to ISIS, but instead, got a bit creative in using his job search skills to find a way.