The rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its increasingly sophisticated social media communication and recruitment strategies influenced a diverse group of people from around the world, including from the United States, throughout 2014.
The ADL’s new report, Homegrown Islamic Extremism in 2014: The Rise of ISIS and Sustained Online Radicalization, presents key findings and trends that result from ISIS’s increasing reach, and its ramifications on domestic security.
The report describes how at least 17 American citizens and permanent residents motivated by the ideology propagated by ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups overseas were charged in 2014 with terror-related offenses.
Three others were identified as having died while fighting with terrorist groups abroad and an additional five minors are believed to have attempted to join such groups but were not charged. Of these 25, nearly all engaged to some degree with online terrorist propaganda and 19 are believed to have attempted to join or aid ISIS.
These individuals range in age from 15 to 44, with 11 in their twenties and 7 in their teens. At least one quarter were converts to Islam. 32% were women.
The report also draws on findings from previous years, noting for example that residents from 20 states have been charged in connection with Islamic extremism since 2012.
In addition, the report describes the new phenomenon of criminal acts that have not been defined by authorities as terrorism but that have been influenced by terrorist propaganda – including murders in New Jersey and Oklahoma and an attempted murder in New York in 2014.
Finally, it analyzes current terrorist narratives and recruiting techniques, including their use of social media to attract increasing numbers of followers and the way anti-Semitism is used to motivate recruits.