ISIS in America: Study finds younger and more diverse Islamic State recruits in US

Originally published on 02 December, 2015

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A study on American followers of the Islamic State group presents a demographic snapshot showing younger and more diverse recruits that do not fit any single profile.

Authorities in the United States have charged 71 people for Islamic State-related activities since March 2014, arresting 56 in 2015 alone, the most arrests in a single year since September 11, 2001, according to a study conducted by a team from George Washington University.

The study looked at legal documents to examine cases of individuals charged for ISIS-related activities in the U.S., and analyzed the the Twitter activity of approximately 300 users identified as American ISIS followers.

Arrests have been made in 21 states, with New York logging the most number of cases at 13, followed by Minnesota at 11. Eighty-six percent were male, their ages ranging from 15 to 47, and averaging 26.

A little more than half were caught with the help of an informant or undercover agent, a tactic regularly used in terrorism investigations.

Fifty-one percent traveled or attempted to travel abroad, presumably to conflict areas, and while only 27 percent were involved in terrorist plots on U.S. soil, 73 percent were arrested for providing material support to ISIS fighters.

The study also found that American ISIS followers, though active on various social media platforms, seem to be most active on Twitter, with nearly a third of the accounts reportedly managed by women.

Social media is not the sole medium for radicalization though, as real-life interactions complemented and strengthened ties to ISIS in some cases.

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