ISIS-related mobilization in America is unprecedented.
According to a recent in-depth report from George Washington University, ISIS In America, From Retweets to Raqqa, ISIS suspects and recruits are in at least 26 states in America.
As of Fall, 2015, there were roughly 250 Americans who were documented to have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria/Iraq to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
There are currently 900 active investigations against ISIS sympathizers in all 50 states. Since March, 2014:
- 71 people have been charged for ISIS-related activities
- 56 were arrested in 2015 alone– a record number of terrorism-related arrests for any year since 9/11.
- The majority charged are male (86 percent) and 26 years old.
They were caught in 21 states, in which
- 51 percent traveled or attempted to travel abroad,
- 27 percent were involved in plots to carry out attacks on U.S. soil,
- 55 percent were arrested in an operation involving an informant and/or an undercover agent.
According to the Institute of War, ISIS’s plan for the U.S. is to attack and polarize.
As part of the University’s Program on Extremism, the researchers reviewed more than 7,000 pages of legal documents detailing ISIS-related legal proceedings. These included “criminal complaints, indictments, affidavits, and courtroom transcripts. Supplemented by original research and interviews with prosecutors, reporters, and, in some select cases, families of the charged individuals, the Program developed a snapshot of the 84 individuals who have been charged for various ISIS-related activities.”
GW’s report is two-fold:
The report, ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa consists of two parts. The first examines all cases of U.S. persons arrested, indicted, or convicted in the United States for ISIS-related activities. A wide array of legal documents related to these cases provides empirical evidence for identifying several demographic factors related to the arrested individuals. This section also looks at the cases of other Americans who, while not in the legal system, are known to have engaged in ISIS-inspired behavior.
The second part of the report examines various aspects of the ISIS-related mobilization in America. Here the report analyzes the individual motivations of ISIS supporters; the role of the Internet and, in particular, social media, in their radicalization and recruitment processes; whether their radicalization took place in isolation or with other, like-minded individuals; and the degree of their tangible links to ISIS. It concludes with recommendations to combat ISIS recruitment.
The researchers uncovered that American ISIS supporters are not homogenous. They represent a range of ethnicity, socio-economic and educational backgrounds.
The Program on Extremism identified roughly 300 American and/or U.S.-based ISIS sympathizers who are active on social media, spread propaganda, and interact with like-minded peers. As the report indicates the “online echo chamber eventually make the leap from keyboard warriors to actual militancy.”
ISIS sympathizers in America primarily use Twitter. The program identified user accounts that generate primary content, retweet material, or promote newly created accounts of suspended users. The range of U.S.-based sympathizers who are involved with or promoting ISIS varies from those who are inspired by ISIS’s message to those become leaders of social media groups.
The GW report, one of the largest online collections of legal records of ISIS radicalization and recruitment in the United States, is well worth the read.
It reveals the extent to which Obama and others have allowed a steady infiltration of Islamists into the country, a clear and present danger, and national emergency, that is largely unreported and ignored.