A recent study of individuals arrested in the United States for Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-related crimes found that U.S.-based recruits are more interested in conducting attacks at home than traveling to the Middle East to engage in jihad.
The study, by the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, revealed:
The alleged interest in joining the ranks of foreign fighters in Syria has dropped measurably, with only 6 out of 16 cases, or 38%, in 2016, including allegations of wanting to fight abroad for ISIS. Instead, their focus, as described in criminal complaints, is on remaining in the United States and carrying out acts of violence here. Those allegedly planned attacks, according to the complaints, are aimed primarily at government and military officials and personnel.
Individuals indicted for ISIS-related crimes “rarely” showed an inclination towards attacking civilians like the jihadists who carried out the massacres in San Bernardino, CA, and Orlando, FL, notes the Fordham study.
“Moreover, there has been a noticeable trend towards the use of guns and blades,” it added.
The study also found that some ISIS-linked convicts are being given second chances.
“Both before trial and after conviction, there has been a small but discernible trend towards intervention, diversion, and rehabilitation in these cases,” reported Fordham. “Two defendants have received on [sic] pre-trial release to the custody of their parents. One was held in a halfway house rather than in jail pending resolution of his case. Two were released on probation following their convictions.”
According to Fordham, recent evidence suggests that some ISIS members in the United States have ties to the jihadist group abroad.
“This year, recent court filings have alleged that a New England ISIS plot involving 3 individuals in the U.S. had direct ties to a known ISIS associate overseas,” noted the study, adding that the plot marks “the first disclosed instance of direct ties to ISIS” abroad.
The recently released study highlights 101 ISIS-related cases, including 94 that were indicted in federal courts and seven involving suspects who were killed by law enforcement.
“Nearly half of the cases have been resolved, and to date have resulted in a 100% conviction rate, with only seven going to trial, and the rest resulting in guilty pleas,” noted Fordham. “The average sentence is 9.2 years, remaining largely steady since the first ISIS-related indictment in March of 2014.”
Compared to last year, the number of ISIS arrests and rate of indictments have reportedly dropped.
“Although there are only 101 publicly known cases, the Director of the FBI, James Comey, has noted that over 900 investigations are open and that they span all 50 states,” acknowledged Fordham.
The wide range of individuals attracted to ISIS … are predominantly male, young, and U.S. citizens, with more than half born in the United States. All but one were Muslim at the time of arrest. Most were attracted at least in part by social media, and many had expressed some form of social alienation, loneliness or identity issues.
One third of the indicted individuals are converts to Islam.
Furthermore, more than a quarter of the ISIS-linked arrestees expressed a desire to become martyrs, the study pointed out.