Study: Almost half of alleged terrorists in US unrelated to ISIS

Study: Almost half of alleged terrorists in US unrelated to ISIS
© Getty Images

A new study finds that almost half of the alleged terrorists charged in the United States were inspired by jihadist groups other than the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

ADVERTISEMENT

“The data presented in this report suggests that the draw of the global jihadist movement is more about identification with the core tenets of Salafi-jihadism than group affiliation,” the study from the George Washington University's Program on Extremism said.

The study focused on charges in the U.S. from March 2011, when the Syrian civil war began, through the end of July 2016. Of the 178 people charged since then, 79 were not linked to ISIS, researchers found. Fifty-two of the 79 were either legal permanent residents or citizens of the United States, they added.

“While an unprecedented number of Americans have radicalized in support of [ISIS] in the last five years, sustained terrorism arrests unrelated to [ISIS] indicate that other terrorist organizations within the global jihadist movement continue to appeal to Americans,” the study, first obtained by ABC News, said. 

The terror group, which controls land in parts of Syria and Iraq, has directed attacks in Europe, specifically in Belgium and France. 

The study’s research did not include suspects who have been killed by police in attacks, including the shooting in Garland, Texas at a “Draw the Prophet Muhammad” contest. The study also did not include Americans who have traveled abroad since 2011 to wage jihad.

The director of the Program on Extremism, Lorenzo Vidino, told ABC News that most “militants at the grassroots level in the West care little about the divisions between [ISIS] and al Qaeda, they just want to fight jihad.”

"What attracts them is a common ideology, a blend that takes from all jihadists groups and ideologues without much distinction,” Vidino said.

The deputy director of the program who oversaw the research compared the various terrorist organizations to different brands of soda.

"There is a focus on these terrorist organizations, and that's important, but it's not the be all, end all. It's Coke versus Pepsi, but it's still soda at the end of the day," said Seamus Hughes.