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.


 

Projects

ISIS in America

 

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

 

GW Extremism Tracker

Our GW Extremism Tracker provides monthly 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. 


 

Attacks

 

Attacks

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. Visit our project page to learn more. 


 

The Travelers

 

Travelers

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. Visit this page to learn more.


 

Online Supporters

 

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. Visit this page to learn more.

 


 

Female Jihadists

 

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. Read more here


 

Terrorism Financing

 

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. Visit our project page to learn more.

 

Browse All Related Content

Authored by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens | May 2020

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

12/8/2021


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

9/14/2021


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

1/12/2021


Book Launch- Homegrown: ISIS in America

11/12/2020


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

10/22/2020


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

10/20/2020


Responses to Returning and Repatriating ISIS Affiliates

10/8/2020


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

9/29/2020


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

8/27/2020


Incitement: A Book Talk With Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens

5/27/2020


Extremism Prevention: Experiences of Frontline Practitioners

4/17/2020


Extremism and the Global Health Crisis

3/30/2020


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

2/19/2020


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

2/4/2020


Extremism in Sweden

11/13/2019


Regional Hotspots and Global Interventions

9/19/2019


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

6/26/2019


Terrorism Prevention in the United States

6/13/2019


Encrypted Extremism: A Discussion on Islamic State Exploitation of Telegram

6/6/2019


What Next? Improving Counter-Extremism Programs in Central Asia

5/8/2019


Historical Perspectives on Comparing Terrorism "Waves"

4/18/2019


How We Win: A Book Talk with Farah Pandith

3/21/2019

"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

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.