WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Since the beginning of April, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has made more than a dozen arrests of US citizens seeking to provide material support to the Islamic State. The majority of the arrests this month — including six individuals on Sunday — were made as the alleged criminals sought to join the ISIL by traveling to Syria. Only one of the arrests so far in April is related to attempts to carry out terrorism in the United States.
“If we make it more difficult for wannabe Jihadis to strike abroad then they are only incentivized to strike at home, which is by most estimations even worse,” terrorism expert at Northeastern University Max Abrahms said on Monday. “It is really just a matter of time before there are Islamic State inspired terrorist attacks in the United States.”
While US law enforcement has done an excellent job tracking and prosecuting terrorists in the United States, the rising number of Americans seeking to travel abroad to join the ISIL brings up questions as to why more homegrown terrorists are not targeting the US homeland, Abrahms said.
“It is baffling for wannabe Jihadis to travel to Syria if they have an anti-America agenda and want to harm Americans, because it is much easier to strike soft targets at home than to travel to Syria,” Abrahms said, adding that both al-Qaeda and ISIL have encouraged Westerners to commit terrorist attacks at home rather than travel to Syria or Iraq.
40 jihadis who joined the Islamic State have returned to the US: DHS Secretary says “You can’t know everything” http://t.co/menmmYJU34— ROCKWITHBECK (@ROCKWITHBECK) 12 апреля 2015
Terrorism expert at the State University of New York in Albany, Victor Asal, pointed out that one reason for wannabe Jihadis to go abroad rather than plot attacks at home is the desire to help establish an Islamic caliphate and gain training.
“Some people are attracted to the thought of fighting the good fight in the place where that fight is happening. So, some people might be attracted to fighting in Syria and Iraq [rather] than doing terrorist activities in the United States. Plus there is training in Iraq and Syria,” Asal told Sputnik.
Asal added that there is still a risk of an attack in the United States, but not as high as in Europe since American-Muslims are much better integrated into the US society than Muslim immigrants in Europe.
American-Muslim integration and fewer radicalized mosques compared to Europe allow law enforcement to better track potentially radicalized people, Abrahms from Northeastern University explained.
“In the United States, the radicals seem to be more disparate and are geographically further from conflict zones and there are fewer radical mosques,” Abrahms said.
Europe has witnessed several ISIL-inspired terrorist attacks since the group’s rise to prominence last year, including attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and Kosher supermarket in Paris.
According to the US National Counterterrorism Center, over 20,000 foreigners from 90 countries are suspected to have joined the ISIL over the last tree years.