WASHINGTON (CBSDC)– There are as many as 300 supporters of the Islamic State militant group online in the United States, according to a new study.
George Washington University researchers from the program on extremism found that recruiters are using Twitter to encourage ISIS-supporters to travel to Iraq and Syria, as reported by Pop Herald.
The study found there are hundreds of American supporters who are often active on Twitter and potentially being recruited from the group abroad.
“The individuals range from hardened militants to teenage girls, petty criminals and college students,” Lorenzo Vidino, the director of the university’s program on extremism, said. “A small number of Americans have wholeheartedly embraced their new-found ISIS support system online.”
Study authors and other officials have warned that the Islamic State’s influence through the internet has been capable of brainwashing Americans to become more radicalized.
The study also found that most of the group’s supporters online speak English and that 58 of the arrested suspects are US citizens. Communication and support for the group also expands to other social media including Facebook, Google+, and apps like Kik and Telegram. The researchers found that most users supporting the group could be categorized as generating content, retweeting content, or giving “shout-outs” to the group.
“American accounts, like the larger ISIS echo chamber, tend not to tolerate dissent and silence attempts at nuance”, the report states. “Many U.S.-based Muslim scholars and activists, even those from conservative backgrounds, are subject to routine death threats”.