By Debbie Gregory.
Since the rise of the Islamic State in January, 2014, and the intervention of U.S. and collation airstrikes against the terrorist group, federal authorities have identified approximately 150 Americans who have sought to join the Islamic State, also interchangeably called ISIS and ISIL.
There have been reports of individuals, mostly young people from the U.S., U.K. and other western countries, attempting to join Islamic State fighters in their war against the governments of Iraq and Syria, as well as the U.S. and other coalition nations.
Approximately forty U.S. residents are reported to have travelled to the Middle East in an attempt to join the Islamic State, and have returned back to the states. Nearly all of these individuals have been charged with a variety of federal and international crimes. Federal investigators estimate that there are at least a dozen or more U.S. residents who are in Iraq or Syria, fighting for the Islamic State. Of course, these are just the occurrences that government agencies are aware of; the actual number could be higher.
American officials credit the Islamic State’s multimedia campaign for their ability to successfully recruit new members and gain sympathy for their organization. ISIS utilizes the internet and just about every social media outlet they can to spread propaganda. In every case investigated by the U.S. government, ISIS propaganda that was obtained online was at least partially responsible for the individual’s interest in joining the Islamic State.
One of the most effective aspects of the Islamic State’s multimedia recruitment campaign is their peer-to-peer, sometimes called “brother-to-brother” engagement. This is where established members of ISIS provide encouragement and personalized mentorship to potential ISIS recruits. These measures have been very effective, according to individuals who attempted to join the Islamic State. As one would imagine, the ability to recruit Americans to their cause is a feather in the cap for the Islamic State, and sends a powerful message to their allies and enemies alike.
It is important to be aware of the abilities of your enemies, especially when their reach can affect your own home town. American citizens may not be fighting ISIS from here in the U.S., but the Islamic States’ war is targeting you, your family, and your way of life, in your own communities.
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Military Connection: The Reach of ISIS: By Debbie Gregory