Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Dangers and Difficulties with ISIS

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Dangers and Difficulties with ISIS

Article excerpt

Dealing with the radicalism found in the Middle East gets curiouser and curiouser.

Every time we think we understand the problem and have a solution, the virus changes.

Now rather then try to send terrorists into the country, ISIS is using social media to try to find lone wolf radicals with no criminal history to do their evil deeds.

And worse, according to a study by George Washington University reported in The New York Times, ISIS followers in the United States show few similarities other than most are young.

A total of 56 Americans have been arrested in 2015, including teenage girls, petty criminals and college students.

A total of 250 Americans have traveled or tried to travel to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS, reports the George Washington study. There are 900 active investigations against ISIS sympathizers in all 50 states.

They usually have little background in terrorism or even inclusion in a cell.

The one similarity is that 80 percent were younger than 30. About 40 percent were converts to Islam.

Slightly more than half of those arrested had tried to travel abroad, probably Syria or Iraq.

But the trend appears to be to stay home and attack here. Social media is multiplying the effect. It triggers their radicalization process, it helps them mobilize and it incites them to carry out attacks on Americans.

What makes a person move from "keyboard warrior" to terrorist is difficult to ascertain.

ISIS recruiters overseas groom naive Americans with flattery and gifts.

There is even an online travel guide of sorts for would-be terrorists. It includes tips for crossing the Turkish border, contact information for ISIS volunteers and even handwritten farewell letters to parents.

All in all, a disturbing and frightening thought.

The George Washington report suggests a framework for intervening on these recruitment efforts with citizen groups. The difficulty is that often the potential terrorists have not broken any laws during their ISIS recruitment process.

There is, however, an opportunity to use disillusioned ISIS recruits to share their stories online.

VISAS A BIGGER CONCERN

As Americans learn more about the exhaustive security precautions being taken with refugees from Syria, the new focus is on the visa waiver system.

About 20 million travelers came to America last year with a lot less security than the refugee system.

There are 38 countries that have simplified and speeded visa systems with the U.S. that originally were designed for tourists and business travelers, according to the NPR website.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., longtime leader in the Senate Intelligence Committee, called this "the soft underbelly" of America's security system.

With French and Belgian nationals carrying out the Paris attacks, this is a valid concern for the U. …

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