Thirty-one individuals living in the U.S. have been linked to terrorism motivated by Islamic extremist ideology in the first four months of 2015. This surpasses the total in each of the past two years: 26 individuals living in the U.S. were linked to such terrorism in all of 2014 and 22 in 2013.
ADL has issued a new report that sheds light on the demographics of these individuals and may provide context for thinking about the approximately 180 unknown Americans believed to have traveled to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq, an unknown number of whom may have joined terrorist organizations.
The report details the affiliations, plans and aims of U.S. residents linked to terrorism motivated by the ideologies of Islamic extremism.
About 81% of the U.S. residents linked to terrorism motivated by Islamic extremist ideologies since 2014 have supported ISIS, influenced at least in part by the group’s sophisticated use of social media communication and recruitment, as well as by the high volume of coverage surrounding its activity and the ongoing presence of conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Of those individuals linked to terrorism in 2015, 16 individuals are believed to have traveled or planned to travel to join terror groups abroad, 3 are believed to have attempted to aid other Americans in joining ISIS, and 7 were attempting to fund ISIS.
Eleven of the individuals were also engaged in domestic plots. Five out of the 7 plots discussed were directed against military institutions or personnel – longstanding targets for such violence.
The report also examines demographic statistics of the individuals, including age, gender, ethnicity and geographic distribution.
The individuals arrested in 2015 range in age from 16 to 47.
At least seven of them, or just under one-quarter, were converts to Islam. That percentage is comparable to the percentage in 2014.
Nine of the 31 individuals had family members who have also been implicated in Islamic extremist activity.
Five of them were women, resulting in a total of 14 women linked to Islamic extremism since the start of 2014. Women engaging with terrorist groups is not a new phenomenon, but these numbers represent a significant increase, which may result in part from direct recruitment of women by ISIS.
Islamic extremism related arrests in 2015 have taken place in 11 states, including 6 individuals arrested in New York, 4 each in
Minnesota and Illinois, 3 in Missouri and 2 each in Ohio, California and Kansas One American was arrested in Pakistan but was originally from Texas.