Modern Western ISIS Recruits Presenting Tracking Issues for Law Enforcement

The fight against terrorism is becoming a bit more complex as American authorities have arrested almost five dozen people in the United States for helping to support or plot with the Islamic State.

This is the largest number of terrorism-related arrests in the country in a single year since September 2001. A new study finds that today's recrutis are younger than previous terrorism suspects and are mostly Islamic converts. In addition, there are increasingly prominent roles for women.

This makes it even more challenging for the F.B.I. and local law enforcement to identify, monitor and apprehend suspects. Furthermore, the Islamic State uses Twitter, Facebook and other social media to attract young Westerners.

Lorenzo Vidino, the director of the university’s program on extremism, which conducted the study said, “The individuals range from hardened militants to teenage girls, petty criminals and college students. The diversity is staggering.” The report, “ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa,” was made public on Tuesday.

Even before the recent attacks in Paris, at least three dozen people in the United States suspected of ties to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Dr. Vidino, who has studied Islamism for 15 years said, “For law enforcement, it’s extremely difficult to determine who makes a big leap from keyboard jihadist to doing something."

The people in the George Washington University study ranged from a 15-year-old boy to Tairod Pugh, a former Air Force officer who was 47 at the time of his arrest. The average age of an American supporter of the Islamic State is 26.

According to the study, about 14 percent of those arrested were women, and the vast majority were American citizens or permanent residents. Among the arrests made in the past 18 months, 80 percent of those arrested were younger than 30, and 40 percent were under 21.

In addition, around 40 percent of those arrested were converts to Islam. Over half of those arrested tried to travel abroad, allegedly Iraq or Syria. Although authorities have noticed a trend that the group's new message is to stay home and carry out attacks here.

F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, says there are around 900 open inquiries related to the Islamic State. Much of the study’s research focused on the Twitter activities of about 300 individuals identified as American supporters of the Islamic State.

Photo: News Week

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