Nicole Lynn Mansfield

Nicole Mansfield was killed on May 29, 2013, during a confrontation in Idlib, Syria. Mansfield allegedly threw a grenade at Syrian government forces who began shooting at her car, killing all three passengers inside. Mansfield was 33 years old at the time and became the first American woman to be killed in Syria.Jennifer Preston, “Michigan Woman Killed in Syria War, Reports Say,” New York Times, May 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/us/syria-fighting-touches-a-family-in-michigan.html.

According to conversations she had with family members, Mansfield traveled first to Tunisia and then Turkey before entering Syria.Niraj Warikoo, “From Michigan to a violent death in Syria,” USA Today, June 30, 2013, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/30/syria-michigan-woman-killed/2477393/. Activists in the Idlib province said they believed she was working as a lookout or “media coordinator” for a Syrian rebel group.Jennifer Preston, “Michigan Woman Killed in Syria War, Reports Say,” New York Times, May 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/us/syria-fighting-touches-a-family-in-michigan.html. It is unclear exactly which rebel group Mansfield was associated with, however a Syrian government television station reported she was part of the Nusra Front while another Sunni Islamist group, Ahrar Al-Sham, claimed she was fighting for them.Niraj Warikoo, “From Michigan to a violent death in Syria,” USA Today, June 30, 2013, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/30/syria-michigan-woman-killed/2477393/.

Mansfield was brought up as a Baptist in Flint, Michigan.Jennifer Preston, “Michigan Woman Killed in Syria War, Reports Say,” New York Times, May 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/us/syria-fighting-touches-a-family-in-michigan.html. She became pregnant at the age of 15, dropped out of high school, and earned her GED before attending Mott Community College.Niraj Warikoo, “From Michigan to a violent death in Syria,” USA Today, June 30, 2013, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/30/syria-michigan-woman-killed/2477393/. In 2007, Mansfield and her roommate Janice Wilson were working as home health aides when they converted to Islam.Jennifer Preston, “Michigan Woman Killed in Syria War, Reports Say,” New York Times, May 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/us/syria-fighting-touches-a-family-in-michigan.html. Then 18-year-old Triana Manfield said of her mother, “My mother struggled to make ends meet and we often moved around. I never stayed in one place for long because my mother could never keep up with the bills.”Niraj Warikoo, “From Michigan to a violent death in Syria,” USA Today, June 30, 2013, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/30/syria-michigan-woman-killed/2477393/. Mansfield married an Arab immigrant in 2008, but they divorced soon after. Wilson also revealed that Mansfield had traveled to Dubai for a short period of time. She was living with a Muslim family in Detroit before she left for Syria.Jennifer Preston, “Michigan Woman Killed in Syria War, Reports Say,” New York Times, May 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/us/syria-fighting-touches-a-family-in-michigan.html.

Triana Mansfield posted on her Facebook page, “My mother was NOT a terrorist. She went there for a reason that is unknown.”Jennifer Preston, “Michigan Woman Killed in Syria War, Reports Say,” New York Times, May 31, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/us/syria-fighting-touches-a-family-in-michigan.html. However, Nicole Mansfield’s grandmother Carole Mansfield said that although her granddaughter possessed a “heart of gold,” she was “weak-minded.” Carole Mansfield claimed, “I think [Nicole] could have been brainwashed.”Matt Williams, “Nicole Mansfield ‘just a regular American’, says daughter,” Guardian (London), May 31, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/31/nicole-lynn-mansfield-syria-killed-brainwashed.

Extremist entity
Nusra Front
Type(s) of Organization:
Insurgent, non-state actor, terrorist, transnational, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Al-Qaeda affiliated group, Islamist, jihadist, Qutbist, Salafist, Sunni
Position(s):
Foreign fighter

Al-Nusra Front is al-Qaeda’s formal affiliate in Syria and one of the most powerful rebel groups fighting Assad. The group conducts formal military campaigns, assassinations, hostage missions, and ‘lone wolf’ operations, including al-Qaeda’s trademark suicide bombings. 

Return to Full Database

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

Without doubt, the secularists are evil and more malicious than the polytheists and secularism is farther astray from the path and more malicious than polytheism. The secularists who are associated with Islam even [merely] by identity are considered apostates by a group of scholars. The Jews, Christians, those who worship graves, and many polytheists and unbelievers have committed lesser acts of unbelief than the secularists.

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Salafist propagandist Mar. 1, 2021
View Archive

CEP on Twitter