Rabat - The Islamic State has attracted an “unprecedented number” of American sympathizers in 2015, a new study by George Washington University's Program on Extremism has warned.
Rabat – The Islamic State has attracted an “unprecedented number” of American sympathizers in 2015, a new study by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism has warned.
The study revealed that more than 50 American citizens were arrested in 2015 for helping to support or plot with the Islamic State, the largest number of terrorism-related arrests in the country in a single year since September 2001.
“ISIS-related mobilization in the United States has been unprecedented,” said the authors of the study. As of the fall of 2015, nearly 250 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria/Iraq to join the terrorist group.
According to the same source, one of the key recruiting tactics used by ISIS and other extremist groups has been social media.
At least 300 American ISIS sympathizers are spreading propaganda for the terrorist group and actively recruiting individuals on Twitter. Nearly a third of those activists are said to be women.
“The individuals range from hardened militants to teenage girls, petty criminals and college students,” said Lorenzo Vidino, the director of the university’s program on extremism, which conducted the study.
“The diversity is staggering,” Lorenzo added.
The study revealed that the “youngest U.S. person arrested for ISIS-related activities was an unnamed 15-year-old boy. Two others were minors, age 16 and 17 at the time of their arrests. The oldest was Tairod Pugh, a former Air Force officer who was 47 at the time of his arrest.”
The study said arrests alone cannot solve the problem and that a more comprehensive approach must be developed.