January 18, 2019

5 Key Facts from the ADL’s Islamist Extremism Report

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released its yearly report on Islamic extremism on May 1, analyzing 98 Islamist terror plots over the past 15 years. Its findings are worth an examination as the world deals with the barbaric ideology of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and its adherents.

Here are five key facts from the ADL’s report.

1. Most Islamic terror plots in the United States are homegrown. The ADL’s report found that between 2002 and 2017, there were 127 individuals involved in 98 terror plots. Ninety percent of those individuals were either U.S. citizens or legal immigrants; 52 percent were born in the U.S.

There are two possible ways to look at this. The ADL is arguing that these findings show that the Trump administration is wrong to suggest “that immigrants and foreign born individuals post the greatest threat to our national security.” The flipside to that argument is that 48 percent of that 90 percent figure came into the U.S. legally, meaning that the immigration system need to be improved to ensure that the U.S. isn’t allowing terrorists to slip through its borders.

2. Recent terror plots seemed to focus on areas that weren’t fortified with armed security. The report states that ISIS and al-Qaeda propaganda explicitly encourages its adherents “to look towards soft targets, which typically have less security and are more accessible than symbolic targets” in order to murder as many people as possible. The report cites six terror plots in 2017 that honed in on soft targets, including a plot targeting a mall in Miami and San Francisco’s Pier 39.

These findings would suggest that having an armed presence in public areas would discourage acts of terrorism.

3. Islamist terror organizations have recently been disseminating their propaganda through a social media app called Telegram. Telegram, an encrypted instant messaging app, has become the preferred app for Islamic terror groups after Facebook, YouTube and Twitter began cracking down on such propaganda on their respective platforms. According to the report, apps like Telegram provide terrorists the ability “to distribute information more freely.” For instance, the report goes explains how Everitt Aaron Jameson, who was arrested for plotting a terror attack in San Francisco, was likely influenced by ISIS propaganda on Telegram urging its followers to launch terror attacks during Christmas at around that time.

4. Most of the individuals who were arrested in 2017 for plotting Islamic terror attacks were ISIS supporters. There were 29 people arrested for plotting Islamic terror attacks, 24 of which were ISIS adherents. The rest were either adherents to Hezbollah or Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s former affiliate.

5. The average age of those arrested for Islamic terror attacks was 30.3. The report noted that the average age of these individuals has increased since 2012 and the number of women arrested for Islamic terror attacks has declined from 40 percent in 2014 to less than 7 percent in 2017.

Read the full report here.