The Americans Supporting ISIS
A state and local Fusion Center has compiled an analysis of the Americans supporting ISIS as an informational tool for law enforcement and first responders. Since late 2014, ISIS has implemented an aggressive, calculated plan to infuse the internet via social media with propaganda, specifically targeting western sympathizers. The use of dramatic movie—trailer style videos, peer-to-peer social media applications, blogs, and other publications have been effective, gaining American recruits willing to provide support and take action within the US. Americans are also seeking to travel abroad to join ISIS in the Middle East. With the flood of ISIS propaganda across social media, the number of arrests, plots, recruiting, and possibly acts of terror within the US should be expected to rise.
At least 25 individuals (six per month) living in the US were arrested or charged with illegal acts motivated by Islamic extremist ideology. They break down as follows:
- The overwhelming majority of cases have involved use of the internet to access terrorist propaganda or to communicate with other extremists or co-conspirators.
- At least 24 individuals have been charged with providing support to terrorism. Fourteen of the 24 either joined or attempted to join ISIS, while three of the 24 attempted to aid other Americans in joining ISIS, and seven were attempting to fund ISIS. Those engaged in providing support typically did not work alone.
- Eleven of the individuals arrested planned or discussed the possibility of a domestic attack plot. Five of those 11 planned to travel abroad to join ISIS. There were five plots planned against the US military and two individuals arrested were former US military personnel.
- Age range: 16-47 years old. Nearly half of the 25 individuals (10) were under 21 years old. Two of those 10 were minors, ages 16 and 17.
- Women: Five of the individuals were women.
- At least seven of the individuals arrested converted to Islam from another religion. (U//FOUO) At least 13 of the individuals arrested were Caucasian (non-Arab).
- Seven of the individuals were Somali-American.
- At least two of the individuals had criminal records.
- Geographic representation – The following states are either where arrests took place or where the individuals had involvement within those states: California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
- Assessment: The most notable characteristic from the statistics above is the randomness of the people who were detained. The only distinctive characteristic is that most of the people were under the age of 25. The impact of the ISIS propaganda campaign signifies that all people can be influenced.
According to the report “In February, 2015, FBI Director James Comey pointed out that all 50 states have ongoing investigations regarding various stages of radicalization. He also stated that all 50 states are suspected to have ISIS supporters. This phenomenon will only increase as ISIS furthers its internet campaign to garner support, gain recruits, and incite terrorist acts within the US. At least 150 Americans have sought to join ISIS in Syria and possibly 40 have already gone to Syria and returned to the US. This is part of the ISIS plan. The training received in ISIS-held territory in conjunction with US passports provides ISIS with a source of active agents within the US. The numbers are more likely higher and will increase as the ISIS social media campaign continues to grow.”