Update: The Tumblr has been taken down, see below.
The most incriminating post on the Tumblr account that the FBI says belongs to 25-year-old Terrence McNeil—the post that got him arrested for soliciting violence on Thursday—urges readers to kill specific U.S. military personnel.
But McNeil’s posts weren’t always so inflammatory. In fact, the Tumblr believed to be his—which was still online as of Thursday evening—contains lots of stuff you’d find on many other Tumblrs: cartoon screenshots, memes, and images of cute animals. (Update: As of November 20, the blog has been taken down, though parts of it are still visible at the Internet Archive.) Only in the past year or so did it shift to include posts on ISIS, photos of the smoking World Trade Center, videos of extremist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, and condemnations of the U.S. and Iran. Taken together, the Tumblr is a fascinating portrait of an apparently normal American young person who appears to have been gradually converted into an ISIS supporter.
When he started the account in October 2010, McNeil mostly posted gif's and photos of Pokémon and scantily clad girls.
Over the next few years, he kept up the mix—video game and anime screenshots, basketball players, and photos of naked women. In other words, a highly unremarkable Tumblr.
What seems to be one of the first posts about Islam appeared in October 2014, between a screenshot of a Gundam robot and a gif of a woman feeling her breasts. "WHEN ALLAH BLESSES YOU FINANCIALLY, DON’T RAISE YOUR STANDARD OF LIVING, RATHER RAISE YOUR STANDARD OF GIVING," McNeil reblogged from an account that appears to share Qur'an verses. His next post mentioning Islam was a few of weeks later, a photo mourning the death of an al-Nusra Front fighter in Syria.
In January 2015, posts about Islam become the norm on McNeil's Tumblr. (The last time he posted a photo of a naked woman was November 2014.) He included more verses, photos of Saudi King Abdullah, and several posts in Arabic. But there are also a lot of photos of cute dogs.
Soon, some posts took on an anti-American nature. American flags with "Terror State" written on them pop up, as do photos of Osama Bin-Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and others. He reblogged posts noting how Muslims were being killed "in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Burma, Somalia, CAR, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya and elsewhere."
In April 2015, his volume of posts notably increases, and includes more explicitly ISIS content. There's an Obama family photo captioned "a drone strike at this moment would have been perfect."
Around the same time, McNeil also explicitly said he supported ISIS. One user asked him why.
First I support all the Mujahideen who are standing up and defending my oppressed brothers and sisters around the world. Secondly I supported the actions of the Mujahideen before the Syrian civil war. I used to be pro FSA [Free Syrian Army] until IS was formed. Since then IS have been the only group in Syria to defeat the Assad regime of a regular bases. IS is also the only group in Syria to implement Sharia 100%. IS has been the only group to destroy man made border that caused Muslims of the region hardship ever since the were draw up by the Sykes–Picot Agreement after the fall of the Ottoman Khilafa. Those are just some reasons why I support IS
Responding to the Baltimore protests over the death of Freddie Gray in April, McNeil wrote:
I don’t really care about Baltimore or any other american issue. Even though I live in american, the problems of the Ummah [Muslim community] are more of a concern to me. Not a day goes by without me making Dua [invocation] for the Ummah. It doesn’t matter that I’m thousands of miles away I feel for my brothers and sisters daily.
And he also encouraged African-Americans to convert to Islam:
The black community in american needs to embrace Islam (Not the nation of Islam). They black community here is the most secular divided group in this country. The civil right movement only succeeded because of unity, leaders with a clear message, and martyrdom on MLK which strengthen the unity. Also drop this idea of non violence, oppression can not be cured through those means. Embrace Islam and Allah will grant you victory over the disbelievers.
In some of his postings in the last few months, McNeil repeatedly encouraged his followers to ask him anonymous questions, and answered questions about himself and his views on Islam. He would also pose general questions, like "What does 'sjw' mean?" and expressed his desire to get married. One anonymous user asked if he was already married and he answered "Soon inshallah."
In some other more personal posts, he shared in August that"I’m native American, German, and black the US has been killing my ancestors for awhile." A few weeks ago, he reported, "Trying not to get arrested or fired tonight."
While there are still a few anime and animal postings in recent weeks, the Tumblr of late 2015 is completely different from what it was a few years before:
This July, an anonymous user asked a question: "would you say your tumblr is a fair representation of the 'real you'?"
"Somewhat about 60%," McNeil responded. "If it was 100% I would be in jail."
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org