ADL Highlights Spike in Americans Joining Foreign Terrorist Organizations

New York, NY, April 27, 2015 … Thirty-one individuals living in the United States have been linked to plots, conspiracies and other activity on behalf of foreign terrorist groups motivated by Islamic extremist ideologies in the first four months of 2015.

The unprecedented pace of arrests is one of several findings in a new report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which sheds light on the individuals behind the numbers and the evolution of the threat.

The ADL analysis also follows news of the death of Adam Gadahn, an Al Qaeda spokesman from California, whose English-language propaganda was a precursor and model for some of the online strategies we see today, in particular by ISIS.

“The number of American citizens and residents linked to terrorist activity motivated by Islamic extremism in the first few months of this year is a stark reminder of the varied extremist threats we face in this country,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The United States is not immune from the global reach of Islamic extremism.”

The following are included among the ADL’s main findings for 2015:

  • 29 of the 31 individuals supported ISIS.
  • Overwhelming majority of the cases involved individuals who accessed English-language terrorist propaganda online – particularly propaganda distributed by ISIS.
  • 9 of the 31 had family members who have also been implicated in Islamic extremist activity.
  • 16 of the individuals are believed to have traveled or planned to travel to join terror groups abroad.
  • 11 of the individuals also discussed or were engaged in domestic plots.
  • 3 are believed to have attempted to aid other Americans in joining ISIS, and 7 were attempting to fund ISIS.
  • Arrests have taken place in 11 states.
  • 2 of the individuals linked to terror were members of the U.S. military, and 1 attempted to join the military in order to commit an attack from within.
  • At least 7 of the individuals arrested were converts to Islam.
  • 5 women were arrested in 2015, resulting in a total of 14 women linked to Islamic extremism since the start of 2014.

According to Oren Segal, Director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, the “alarming numbers demonstrate the impact foreign terrorist groups have on this generation of homegrown extremists. Most would be jihadists in 2015 have engaged with terrorist propaganda or communicated with like-minded supporters online, especially ISIS.”

Mr. Segal added, “If the current rate of arrests continues, the number of Islamic extremist related terror arrests in 2015 will exceed that of any previous year. The first line of defense against this latest wave of homegrown extremists is an informed community.”

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