Update– 8/27/14: Douglas McAuthur McCain of San Diego, died while fighting with ISIS in Syria in August 2014.
Even as it fights on a number of fronts in the Middle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al Qaeda-inspired terrorist group that claims sovereignty in sections of Syria and Iraq, continues to recruit westerners through its sophisticated online propaganda campaign.
Some Americans are heeding the call.
In 2014, five of the six Americans arrested in the U.S. for attempting to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq were accused of attempting to join ISIS: Donald Ray Morgan of North Carolina in August (arrested on weapons charges but believed to have been attempting to join ISIS); Shannon Maureen Conley of Colorado in July; Adam Dandich of California in July (charged with passport fraud but believed to have been attempting to join ISIS); Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas in June; and Nicholas Teausant of California in March. The sixth, Mohammed Hassan Hamdan of Michigan, allegedly attempted to fight in Syria with Hezbollah.
Furthermore, In June the FBI said it launched an investigation into 15 Somali Americans from Minnesota believed to have joined ISIS.
At least two other Americans have appeared in videos released by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.A video released in August 2014 featured an alleged American national called Abu Abdurahman al-Trinidadi encouraging others to join ISIS. And in May, Moner Abu Salha of Florida was identified in a Jabhat al-Nusra video as having participation in a suicide attack.
U.S. intelligence officials estimate that over 100 American nationals have travelled to join the conflict in Syria, a conflict that has since spread to Iraq.
The effect of ISIS’ increased strength and notoriety, as well as its advanced online recruitment strategies, appear to be having an effect. Of the seven known Americans who either traveled to or attempted to travel to Syria to fight with militants last year, only one was believed to have fought with ISIS; a video released online in November 2013 featured an apparent American called Abu Dujana al-Amriki, praising ISIS.