Homegrown Extremism

Since our founding in 2015, the Program on Extremism has tracked the foreign terrorist nexus within the United States. Our flagship report, ISIS in America, examined cases of United States persons arrested, indicted or convicted in the U.S. for Islamic State-related activities. Since then, we've analyzed multiple dynamics related to ISIS's supporters in the U.S., as well as other jihadist groups with U.S.-based support. We've also released monthly infographics that track the latest developments within this nexus. View featured news and publications, major project streams, and a full archive of related content below to learn more.


Featured News & Publications




ISIS in America

Our flagship report, ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa, examines all cases of United States persons arrested, indicted or convicted in the U.S. for Islamic State-related activities, as well as other Americans who, while not in the legal system, are known to have engaged in IS-inspired behavior. The individuals studied in our report defy any cookie-cutter profile of the “American IS supporter.” As such, we analyze the individual motivations of IS supporters; the role of the Internet, specifically social media, in the radicalization and recruitment process; whether radicalization took place in isolation or with other like-minded individuals; and the degree of their tangible links to IS. Visit this page to access the report and browse all related legal cases.


GW Extremism Tracker

Our GW Extremism Tracker provides quarterly updates on terrorism-related activities and court proceedings in the United States. We track various demographic information related to all individuals charged in the U.S. on offenses related to the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL) since March 2014 when the first arrests occurred. We also track legal proceedings for individuals charged in the U.S. with connections to other jihadist groups as well. 



We continue to track jihadist motivated terrorist attacks in Europe and North America. Our tracker offers a snapshot of all attacks from 2014 to 2020 and is based on a database maintained by Program on Extremism Director Lorenzo Vidino and fellow Francesco Marone. We also published a joint report in 2017, Fear Thy Neighbor: Radicalization and Jihadist Attacks in the West, with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism - The Hague and the Italian Institute for International Polical Studies. 



Hundreds of Americans have been drawn to jihadist organizations fighting in Syria and Iraq. Many were arrested while attempting to make the journey. Our study, The Travelers: American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq, sheds light on the motivations, methods, and threats posed by these travelers. We also track Americans who have traveled to join jihadist organizations in other theaters around the globe. The Program continues to monitor this phenomenon with updated statistics today, including for those who have returned to the United States. 


Online Supporters

Digital communications technologies have become a critical tool for modern terrorist organizations. Not only do groups like the Islamic State use the internet to disseminate their propaganda and communicate their aims to supporters, various virtual platforms have also been used to recruit members and facilitate terrorist plots around the world. Analysis of the "digital toolkit" used by violent extremist organizations can illuminate the overall functions, goals, and ideologies of specific groups, their supporters, and the broader movements behind them. From Twitter to Telegram and beyond, the Program on Extremism monitors violent extremists online with rigorous analytic methods. 


Female Jihadists

The self-proclaimed Islamic State and other jihadist actors have identified several unique roles for Western women in their radicalization and recruitment efforts. While few conduct violent plots in relation to their male counterparts, many disseminate propaganda, donate resources, or travel abroad to offer their support. A recent surge in relevant legal cases suggests that the rate of American female involvement in jihadist movements is on the rise. Our research uses a wealth of primary and secondary sources to examine the efforts of jihadist women in America since 2011 on behalf of organizations like the Islamic State, al-Shabaab, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. 


Terrorism Financing

In the wake of 9/11, efforts to clamp down on what has been termed the “lifeblood of terrorist organizations” became a centerpiece of counter-terrorism policy in the United States. Terrorism financing remains, however, an ever-evolving phenomenon. To keep pace with this shifting landscape, our research examines how American supporters of groups like the Islamic State raise and move funds on behalf of these organizations, as well as the nature of their support networks. 





Browse All Related Content


Authored by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens | May 2020



The Evolution of Critical Insfrastructure Targeting by Violent Extremists

Authored by Ilana Krill | Lawfare | October 20, 2022

A human smuggling ring, a plot to assassinate George W. Bush and an evolving threat

Authored by Seamus Hughes and Andrew Mines | NBC News | June 3, 2022

The Colleyville Hostage Crisis: Aafia Siddiqui’s Continued Pertinence in Jihadi Terror Plots against the United States 
Authored by Bennett Clifford | CTC Sentinel | March 2022

Thousands of men, women and children remain in detention because of their former ties to ISIS
Authored by Devorah Margolin and Austin Doctor | Washington Post | February 2, 2022

Afghanistan and American Jihadists: More Inspiration, Less Destination
Authored by Bennett Clifford and Seamus Hughes | Lawfare | October 27, 2021

A Sea Change in Counterterrorism
Authored by Carly Gordenstein and Seamus Hughes | Lawfare | June 13, 2021

American counterterrorism cannot be an either/or proposition
Authored by Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes | The Hill | May 25, 2021

Extremist Experimentation with Text-Based Instant Messaging Applications

Authored by Bennett Clifford | GNET | November 9, 2020

Feds Look to Bring Home Accused American Terrorists After Decade in Pakistan

Authored by Adam Rawnsley and Seamus Hughes | The Daily Beast | October 12, 2020

Balancing Online Content Moderation and the Rule of Law

Authored by Devorah Margolin, Jon Lewis, and Andrew Mines | GNET | September 4, 2020

How the Coronavirus Is Affecting American Jihadist Travelers
Authored by Andrew Mines | Lawfare | August 31, 2020

Dollars for Daesh: The Small Financial Footprint of the Islamic State’s American Supporters

Authored by Lorenzo Vidino, Jon Lewis, and Andrew Mines | CTC Sentinel | March 24, 2020

Telegram’s Cryptocurrency Could Have a Terrorism Problem
Authored by Andrew Mines | Just Security | March 5, 2020

The Fractured Terrorism Threat to America
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Devorah Margolin | Lawfare | November 10, 2019

It’s Not Only Iraq and Syria
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Jon Lewis | Lawfare | August 23, 2019

De-Platforming and the Online Extremist’s Dilemma
Authored by Bennett Clifford and Helen Christy Powell | Lawfare | June 6, 2019

Doxing and Defacements: Examining the Islamic State’s Hacking Capabilities
Authored by Audrey Alexander and Bennett Clifford | CTC Sentinel | April 26, 2019

Destination Jihad: Italy’s Foreign Fighters
Authored by Francesco Marone and Lorenzo Vidino | ICCT | March 19, 2019

Trump’s Domestic Countering Violent Extremism Policies Look a Lot Like Obama’s
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Haroro J. Ingram | Lawfare | March 10, 2019

Sixteen-Year-Old American Islamic State Fighter Reportedly Captured in Syria
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Bennett Clifford | Lawfare | January 9, 2019

The Story of an American Islamic State Member Allegedly Captured in Syria
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens | Lawfare | January 6, 2019

Strasbourg shooting: Why known extremists can carry out terror attacks
Authored by Lorenzo Vidino | BBC News | December 15, 2018

United States v. Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab: A Case Study on Transnational Prosecutions of Jihadi Foreign Fighter Networks
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Bennett Clifford | CTC Sentinel | December 14, 2018

Confronting America’s Violent Extremists: A Terrorism Prevention Strategy for the Homeland
Authored by Haroro J. Ingram | Foreign Policy Research Institute | November 26, 2018

Rethinking “Prison Radicalisation” – Lessons from the U.S. Federal Correctional System
Authored by Bennett Clifford | ICCT | November 16, 2018

Treatment of Terrorists: How Does Gender Affect Justice?
Authored by Audrey Alexander | CTC Sentinel | September 10, 2018

America's Terrorism Problem Doesn’t End with Prison—It Might Just Begin There
Authored by Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes | Lawfare | June 17, 2018

Gray Media Under the Black and White Banner
Authored by Audrey Alexander and Helen Christy Powell | Lawfare | May 6, 2018

“Trucks, Knives, Bombs, Whatever:” Exploring Pro-Islamic State Instructional Material on Telegram
Authored by Bennett Clifford | CTC Sentinel | May 2018

Whose Responsibility is it to Confront Terrorism Online?
Authored by Seamus Hughes | Lawfare | April 27, 2018

Hyperlinked Sympathizers: URLs and the Islamic State
Authored by Samantha Weirman and Audrey Alexander | Studies in Conflict & Terrorism | March 26, 2018

The Only Islamic State-Funded Plot in the U.S.: The Curious Case of Mohamed Elshinawy
Authored by Seamus Hughes | Lawfare | March 7, 2018

Marginalizing Violent Extremism Online
Authored by Audrey Alexander and William Braniff | The Atlantic | January 21, 2018

A New American Leader Rises in ISIS
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Bennett Clifford | The Atlantic | January 13, 2018

First He Became an American—Then He Joined ISIS
Authored by Seamus Hughes, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, and Bennett Clifford | The Atlantic | May 25, 2017

How to fight ISIS online
Authored by Audrey Alexander | Foreign Affairs | April 7, 2017

The Threat to the United States from the Islamic State’s Virtual Entrepreneurs
Authored by Seamus Hughes and Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens | CTC Sentinel | March 9, 2017

Islamic State is successfully radicalizing Americans. How do we stop them?
Authored by Seamus Hughes | LA Times | May 18, 2016

Fax Machine Radicalization: A Menace
Authored by Seamus Hughes | War on the Rocks | July 23, 2015

How to stop ISIS from recruiting American teens
Authored by Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes | Washington Post | June 17, 2015


For all data inquiries, please email [email protected].



Rise of the Reactionaries - Panel Discussion


American Homegrown Violent Extremism in the Post-9/11 Era


Priorities for the Incoming U.S. Administration in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Domestically and Abroad


Book Launch- Homegrown: ISIS in America


From Online Extremism to Offline Violence: Section 230 and Content Moderation


Terrorism Prosecutions: A Conversation with Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme


Responses to Returning and Repatriating ISIS Affiliates


Dollars for Daesh: A Discussion on Terrorism Financing and American Islamic State Supporters


The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism: Balancing Online Content Moderation and the Rule of Law Confirmation


Incitement: A Book Talk With Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens


Extremism Prevention: Experiences of Frontline Practitioners


Extremism and the Global Health Crisis


Assessing U.S. and Partner Posture to Counter Propaganda and Disinformation


A Woman’s Place: A Book Talk with Joana Cook


Extremism in Sweden


Regional Hotspots and Global Interventions


A Conversation with Manuel Navarrete, Director of Europol's Counter Terrorism Centre


Terrorism Prevention in the United States


Encrypted Extremism: A Discussion on Islamic State Exploitation of Telegram


What Next? Improving Counter-Extremism Programs in Central Asia


Historical Perspectives on Comparing Terrorism "Waves"


How We Win: A Book Talk with Farah Pandith


Legal Documents

ISIS in America Cases

Media Coverage

"Kansas woman pleads guilty to leading ISIS battalion" | The World | June 8, 2022

"Kansas woman who joined ISIS pleads guilty to terrorism charge" | Washington Post | June 7, 2022

"Allison Fluke-Ekren is a rarity to experts: a woman alleged to have a senior role in ISIS" | USA Today | February 2, 2022

"American woman charged with supporting ISIS" | Good Morning America | January 31, 2022

"Kansas mother charged with leading all-female ISIS battalion" | CBS News | January 31, 2022

"Former Kansas teacher is accused of leading all-female ISIS brigade" | Washington Post | January 29, 2022

ISIS soldier to make unprecedented appearance to testify against Dearborn man” | The Detroit News | 6/27/2021

57 nations hit for failure to repatriate women, children from Syrian camps” | Al-Monitor | 2/10/2021

American Mom Who Joined IS Sentenced to More Than 6 1/2 Years in Prison” | VOA News | 11/10/2020

American Mom Who Pleaded Guilty to Terrorism Charges Sentenced to 6.5 Years” | PBS | 11/9/2020

U.S. repatriates last Americans from Syria charged with supporting ISIS, Justice Department says” | Washington Post | 10/1/2020

Terrorism on a budget: Americans who joined ISIS or planned attacks did so with little money” | NBC News | 9/29/2020

Teen accused in Zoom bomb threat at UH once radicalized in support of ISIS, sister says” | The Houston Chronicle | 9/10/2020

London Bridge Attack Raises Questions About Convicted Terrorists Reentering Society” | NPR | 12/3/2019

Take care of your own problem': Turkey returns ISIS fighters to Europe, US” | WJLA – Sinclair | 11/12/2019

Is ISIS Using TikTok To Recruit Young Women?” | Elle | 10/24/2019

Domestic ISIS Arrests Are on the Rise Again” | Washington Free Beacon | 10/5/2019

Tech fight against online extremism gets overhaul” | The Hill | 9/26/2019

New Orleans court tackles ‘extravagant’ ruling in Houston ISIS case” | The Houston Chronicle | 9/4/2019

Appeals court to hear arguments about whether Houston federal judge committed ‘enormous’ error” |The Houston Chronicle | 9/3/2019

He lived in a wealthy N.J. suburb and played in a high school band. How did he end up accused of aiding terrorists?” | NJ.com | 5/26/2019

‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh Released After 17 Years” | Wall Street Journal | 5/23/2019

"American Taliban" John Walker Lindh released from prison 3 years early” | CBS News | 5/23/2019

CIA officer's father to Trump: Please stop release of John Walker Lindh aka 'American Taliban'” | ABC News | 5/23/2019

John Walker Lindh, Known as the ‘American Taliban,’ Is Set to Leave Federal Prison This Week” | New York Times | 5/21/2019

UN Deubuts Program to Stop Terrorist Travel” | Talk Media News | 5/8/2019

Wisconsin Woman Used Hacked Facebook Accounts to Recruit for ISIS, Prosecutors Say” | New York Times | 4/22/2019

Shamima Begum was cruel enforcer in Isil's morality police, say Syrian witnesses” | Telegraph | 4/13/2019

Trump administration signals ISIS foreign fighters could be sent to Guantanamo Bay” | ABC News | 2/22/2019

2 American Wives of ISIS Militants Want to Return Home” | New York Times | 2/19/2019

European Leaders Reluctant To Meet Trump's Demands To Take Back Captive ISIS Fighters” | NPR | 2/18/2019

American Boy, 16, Caught Fighting for ISIS in Syria, Militia Says” | New York Times | 1/9/2019

American from Texas captured while fighting for ISIS, militia says” | ABC News | 1/7/2019

American ISIS Member Caught on Syrian Battlefield, Militia Says” | New York Times | 1/6/2019

Occasional Papers

Unpacking the Links Between Ideas and Violent Extremism
Pete Simi | August 2020

Challenges Posed by Returning Foreign Fighters
Adam Hoffman and Marta Furlan | March 2020

Strategic Operational Continuum: Retooling Prevention (PDF)
Joumana Silyan-Saba | April 2019

Nidal Hasan- A Case Study in Lone-Actor Terrorism
Katharine Poppe | October 2018

Radicalization and the Uzbek Diaspora in the Wake of the NYC Attacks
Bennett Clifford | November 2017

Countering Violent Extremism: Lessons on Early Intervention from the United Kingdom’s Channel Program
Talene Bilazarian | October 2016

Nazis vs. ISIS on Twitter: A Comparative Study of White Nationalist and ISIS Online Social Media Networks
J.M. Berger | September 2016

The Islamic State’s Diminishing Returns on Twitter: How Suspensions are Limiting the Social Networks of English-speaking ISIS Supporters
J.M. Berger and Heather Perez | February 2016

Paper Series

Countering Violent Extremism Series
(October 2015)

De-radicalization and Integration The United Kingdom’s Channel Programme
Rashad Ali

Countering Violent Extremism and American Muslims
Kamran Bokhari

Countering Extremism: Learning from the United Kingdom Model
Ghaffar Hussain

The Identity-Extremism Nexus: Countering Islamist Extremism in the West
Dina al Raffie

Reintegrating Violent Extremist Offenders: Policy Questions and Lessons Learned
Tinka M. Veldhuis

Policy Papers

Persuade or Perish: Addressing Gaps in the U.S. Posture to Confront Propaganda and Disinformation Threats:
Haroro J. Ingram | February 2020

A Plan for Preventing and Countering Terrorist and Violent Extremist Exploitation of Information and Communications Technology in America
Audrey Alexander | September 2019

Leveraging CDA 230 to Counter Online Extremism
Annemarie Bridy | September 2019

Three Constitutional Thickets
Daphne Keller | September 2019

Counterterrorism is a Public Function
Alexander Guittard | September 2019

Lessons from the Information War
J.D. Maddox | September 2019

Social Media, Terrorist Content Prohibitions and the Rule of Law
Stuart Macdonald | September 2019

EU Policy: Preventing the Dissemination of Terrorist Content Online
Jordy Krasenberg | September 2019

Disinformation in Terrorist Content Online
Nina Jankowicz | September 2019

Unraveling the Impact of Social Media on Extremism
Anjana Susarla | September 2019

The Internet Police
Jeff Breinholt | September 2019

Terrorism Prevention in the United States: A Policy Framework for Filling the CVE Void
Haroro J. Ingram | November 2018

Radicalization in Custody: Towards Data-Driven Terrorism Prevention in the United States Federal Correctional System
Bennett Clifford | November 2018


Authored by Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes | June 2015


The State of Homegrown Terrorism
Written Testimony of Seamus Hughes
Deputy Director, Program on Extremism

Before the California State Assembly Select Committee on the State of Hate
November 16, 2021

Low Cost, High Impact: Combatting the Financing of Lone-Wolf and Small-Scale Terrorist Attacks
Written Testimony of Seamus Hughes
Deputy Director, Program on Extremism

Before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee
September 6, 2017

Combatting Homegrown Terrorism
Written Testimony of Seamus Hughes
Deputy Director, Program on Extremism

Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
July 27, 2017

Beyond Iraq and Syria: ISIS' Global Reach
Written Testimony of Lorenzo Vidino
Director, Program on Extremism

Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
June 8, 2017

Countering the Virtual Caliphate
Written Testimony of Seamus Hughes
Deputy Director, Program on Extremism

Before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee
June 23, 2016

Inside the Mind of ISIS: Understanding Its Goals and Ideology to Better Protect the Homeland
Written Testimony of Lorenzo Vidino
Director, Program on Extremism

Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
January 20, 2016

The Rise of Radicalization: Is the U.S. Government Failing to Counter International and Domestic Terrorism?
Written Testimony of Seamus Hughes
Deputy Director, Program on Extremism

Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security
July 15, 2015


Our GW Extremism Tracker covers all U.S. legal cases and proceedings involving homegrown extremists and foreign terrorist organizations.