This Map Shows Where ISIS Is Trying to Recruit Americans

December 11th 2015

Taylor Bell

As the violent acts of the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) continue, so does its ability to recruit members around the world, including right here in U.S.

Below is a map that shows the the number of IS-related investigations in the United States.

known ISIS recruits per state data chart

A new report released by the George Washington University's Program on Extremism found that IS sympathizers were actually located in every state, that as many as 300 U.S.-based ISIS recruiters are allegedly using social media to contact potential members and release information, and that there is "no standard recruit profile" or "silver bullet that will blunt ISIS’s allure."

The report was co-authored by Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes, and it "reviewed social media accounts and legal cases against Islamic State recruits," NPR explains.

Related: Confused About ISIS? A Simple Explanation...

Although the so-called IS has a highly organized media department that includes the production of magazines and videos, social media is emerging as a new way for the terror group to reach Westerners. According to the report, Twitter is the preferred social media platform for IS recruitment. Sympathizers use Twitter to share comedic memes and/or news articles. And despite frequent suspensions they tend to have large Twitter followings.

Currently more than 250 Americans have left or attempted to travel to Syria to join IS, the New York Times reports. (However, that number pales in comparison to the number of Europeans who have joined the so-called IS.)

"The spectrum of U.S.-based sympathizers actual involvement with ISIS varies significantly," the George Washington University study's authors wrote in the report. "Ranging from those who are merely inspired by its message to those few who reached mid-level leadership positions within the group."


Within this year authorities have arrested at least 55 Americans in connection with ISIS and have uncovered 18 terror plots targeted at the U.S.

"While others seek to join the self-declared caliphate in the ISIS-controlled territory, others plan attacks in the U.S.," the co-author of the study, Lorenzo Vidino, explained in a statement. "It's a growing and disturbing phenomenon."

The report's authors call the ability for the Islamic State to mobilize in the United States "unprecedented," however, they also state that "most of the participants in this counter-culture will never make the leap from talk to action, from being keyboard warriors to actual militancy."

Time reports that the the likelihood of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack is extremely low, and that people are more likely to die from non-terrorist gun violence than from domestic and foreign Islamic extremists.


According to Time, most U.S. terrorist attacks in recent years have been carried out by "lone wolves"—people who are not directly connected to IS but who are inspired to commit violent acts.

And even these "lone wolves attacks" are something that professor and director of International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation Peter Neumman told Vox is not as likely to happen. According to Neumman, the U.S. does not have the same structure as Europe to infiltrate, so the only way to attempt to radicalize Americans is through social media. But even that, Neumman says is not always effective.

"People who were purely and exclusively radicalized through the internet...is fairly small," Neumman told Vox.

Related: ISIS Supporters Praise San Bernardino Shootings

The Department of Homeland Security Committee reports that there are 900 ISIS-related investigations taking place around the country and at least one investigation in every state.

Based on these current investigations, states including New York, Minnesota, California, Illinois and North Carolina have been listed as hot beds for IS sympathizers. In addition, Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi have seen an increase in the level of IS activity.