Does ISIS have their eyes on ... us?
The answer is yes, according to a disturbing new analysis published by George Washington University. According to the report issued by the Program on Extremism at the school's Center on Cyber & Homeland Security, terror arrests are at their highest since 9/11 and the group's supporters in the United States are gaining influence.
"Seventy-one individuals have been charged with ISIS-related activities since March 2014. Fifty-six have been arrested in 2015 alone, a record number of terrorism-related arrests for any year since 9/11," the report reads. "The spectrum of U.S.-based sympathizers' actual involvement with ISIS varies significantly, ranging from those who are merely inspired by its message to those few who reached mid-level leadership positions within the group."
Researches also found that ISIS supporters in the U.S. were incredibly diverse, defying easy categorizations into age, race, social class, education and family background and that the group has made prolific in-roads in the United States through the use of social media, specifically citing Twitter.
"Our challenge is to identify the triggers for violence and intervene at just the right moment to prevent it," Jane Harman, president and chief executive of the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C., wrote in the report's forward. "Homegrown terrorists don't fit a single profile. Using social media, our enemies can micro-target their audiences, selling a narrative we need to learn to counter."
In recent months stories have proliferated of ISIS operatives being picked up by federal authorities around the country. In February, three such collaborators were found in New York City. There was also the California resident who sought to blow up what he decreed to be a "Zionist" day care and, of course, the obligatory Florida Man recruit — like this one in Key West.
Calls to step up attacks against the terrorist organization have intensified in the wake of the massacre in Paris, which killed at least 130 people last month. The growth of the group in the U.S. — not to mention the ramifications such growth could have on American Muslims — in the United States is a worrying development for Americans from all points on the political spectrum.