U.S. Authorities Struggle to Find a Pattern Among Aspiring Islamic State Members

   < < Go Back
from The Wall Street Journal,

Lack of common profile poses test for those seeking to curb recruitment into militant group.

ederal authorities investigating suspected Islamic State supporters in all 50 states have found no clear pattern to the type of American inspired to try to join the militant group, complicating efforts to thwart terror recruiting.

Some common threads exist, such as the fact that would-be recruits are often in their teens or early 20s and use social media to express support for Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But overall, the group is broad, covering people who were raised Muslim and those who converted, married and single people, male and female, rich and poor, U.S.-born citizens and recent immigrants.

An estimated 180 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to the civil war in Syria, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said this week. Not all of those, however, are believed to have joined extremist groups.

An interesting fact on some of the individuals that we investigate for support to ISIL is the lack of a singular profile,” Michael Steinbach, head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, said at a congressional hearing last week. “We find citizens, legal permanent resident aliens, some folks that are overstaying their visa. There’s actually quite a diversity of those individuals who for one reason or another state an intent to harm the United States.”

The three Brooklyn men arrested last week for allegedly plotting to support Islamic State were just the latest in a recent string of arrests. Federal authorities have prosecuted almost 30 people in Islamic State-related cases in the past 18 months, according to the Justice Department. The criminal complaints span from California to North Carolina, and the FBI said last week that Islamic State investigations have now been opened in all 50 states.

Nicholas Teausant in August 2014 - CA

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):