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McCain, 33, was the first American to die fighting for ISIL. Years before, he became friends with classmate Troy Kastigar and the two were roommates in Minneapolis.
Kastigar, 28, was killed in Somalia in 2009 while fighting with the terror group Al-Shabab.
Both men had converted to Islam, with relatives left to wonder why the men turned to radical causes.
One of McCain’s cousins, Kenyata McCain, told the Star Tribune this week that she was in touch with him last Friday and “he was telling all of us he was in Turkey.” She noted that his Facebook page indicated that he supported ISIL.
McCain moved to San Diego in 2008, where he briefly worked at a restaurant and attended a mosque. A sister, Delecia, eulogized her brother on Facebook this week. “This is absolutely unreal to me. I love you big brother,” she wrote.
Staff Writer David Chanen contributed to this report.
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