According to a recently-surfaced video, two self-proclaimed gang members from Los Angeles appear to have relocated to Syria to fight on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
If true, then these two men are among the first people to travel from the United States to fight for the Syrian regime, as opposed to the dozens of Americans who have traveled to fight alongside the Syrian rebels, according to the Washington Post.
In the short two-minute video, which first surfaced on Facebook, a man in a dark blue jacket appears to be introducing himself as "Creeper," claiming to represent the notorious Sureño 13 gang. The University of Maryland's gang tracking site notes that the group is a Southern California gang with ties to the Mexican Mafia.
"We got the enemigos [enemies] right there, homie," says Creeper to the camera, gesturing beyond the walls with his gun. "Let me represent myself homie, this is Creeper from that g'd up trece  gang homie, Sun Valley Gang, homie."
"Still puro Sureño, putting it down homie, in Middle East homie, in Syria," Creeper continues. "Still gang banging and not giving a f**k, homie." He then goes on to give shout outs to "Mr. Criminal" from Silver Lake and "Crazy Loco" from Pasadena.
A man wearing a camouflage jacket identifies himself as "Wino," of the Westside Armenian Power Gang, a "small but ruthless" gang known for their "complex fraud schemes," according to the Los Angeles Times.
The video ends with the men firing shots, purportedly at the rebels.
The Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that monitors the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, first came across the video Saturday night. They then re-uploaded it, along with their report, to a wider audience on Sunday morning. MEMRI executive director Steven Stalinsky told HuffPost that the footage should be taken seriously by Los Angeles law enforcement.
"This is the first known instance we've seen any Americans fighting with the Assad regime and Hezbollah forces," said Stalinky. "Any time Americans show up in such a video is cause for concern."
Stalinksy said MEMRI sent the video on to their contacts in the LAPD and LA Sheriff's office, but in an interview with ABC News Sunday, LAPD Deputy Chief for Counterterrorism Mike Downing said that local police have known about the video for a month now. Downing's quote, from ABC News:
"My organized crime and gang investigators found it online and on Facebook," Downing said. "We're kind of concerned about their recruitment and whatever other associates they have here... We predicted this would happen -- the [organized crime and terrorism] convergence. What we're worried about is the ones we don't know about here or coming back to the U.S."
The gang members' loyalty for Assad may seem random, but in the video above, HuffPost Live's Ahmed Shihab-Eldin points out that the Armenian Christian minority in Syria are reportedly supporters of Assad.