Surveyed for the report were 56 terrorist prosecutions related to the terror group between March 1, 2014 and June 22, 2015, with an additional study of suspects who have been killed, bringing the total number of cases up to 59.
The results revealed a surprising profile of a domestic IS-inspired terrorist: a 26-year-old male US citizen with a significant social media footprint, but that model was not restricted to any race or ethnicity.
The study found that US citizens, at 81%, represented the vast majority of IS-inspired terrorists traveling from the US to join the group, with roughly one third of these cases involving converts to Islam. Social media played a role in 80% of the cases, with some either expressing sympathy with the terror group and others using the platform to recruit potential fighters. The same platform has been used by law enforcement to capture domestic terrorists, with at least 18 suspects arrested because of their social media activity.
"Overall, the accused are diverse and difficult to profile, racially and ethnically," the study says. "They belong to a wide swatch of ethnic backgrounds, including African, African-American, Caucasian, Central Asian, Eastern European, and South Asian. Few are of Middle Eastern descent."
The report also reveals a dramatic increase of IS-related arrests in recent years, with only 14 people charged between March and December of 2014, and 42 in just the first six months of 2016. One reason for this, according to the authors, could be the rise of domestic plotters inspired by recent domestic attacks like the Boston Marathon bombing or the Garland shooting, and who are more likely to attack the police or the military.
"Whether foreign fighters or domestic plotters, the ISIS-inspired individuals in this study reflect a new dimension in the landscape of post-9/11 domestic terrorism," Karen Greenberg, director of the Center, said in a statement.
"We’re in a new ballgame, and that ballgame is more related to the general descent into violence [in the United States]."