Experts: Terrorist recruitment widespread in US

Duke professors worried about ISIS' takeover of Palmyra (Image 1)

The FBI said Raleigh was apparently the focal point for an attempted terror act by a South Carolina teenager who tried to join the terror group ISIS. The plot never fully materialized before the teen was arrested.

The teen came under the spell of what federal officials described as a radial extremist who actually met the South Carolina youngster here in Raleigh. Investigators said the teen told government agents that he wanted to kill American soldiers.

The case became public after the 16-year-old appeared in a South Carolina family court charged with possession of a .25-caliber pistol. But it’s more serious than that. The FBI said the teen wanted to join ISIS.

The FBI said a man who goes by the name “Mohammed” and who holds radical Islamic beliefs met the teen Raleigh. Federal officials said they planned to rob a gun shop — and attack an unnamed North Carolina military base to shoot soldiers at random. Experts say this kind of recruitment isn’t unique.

“It’s a still a bit of a mini-epidemic because the FBI says it has investigations going on in all 50 states,” said Duke professor David Schanzer, a terrorism expert. “We’ve had 40 different arrests in the last 12 months for individuals wanting to travel abroad to fight with these groups like ISIS.”

Federal authorities claim the teen was also planning to go to the Middle East to battle Americans overseas

Michael Rovaris, a clinical psychologist at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, said, “They’re seeing their success almost through what we call ‘phishing’ on the internet. They’re casting a very wide net, but it only takes one or two to say ‘I find that interesting.’”

Experts say the lure of what groups like ISIS offer can be a powerful attraction to teens.

“They’re reaching out to this and finding that they want to be something bigger than themselves,” Schanzer said. “The adventure, the fight. maybe identifying with Muslims all around the world and the suffering they are going through. It’s a combination of all these things.”

“It’s about acceptance,” Rovaris said. “It’s about finding groups where people are going to embrace you.”

The experts said it’s not just the potential for domestic terrorism that should concern Americans.

“We also want to stop them [potential terrorists] from traveling abroad, both for their own safety and for the danger that they’ll radicalize there — come back with their passports and maybe be inspired to execute attacks inside the U.S.,” Schanzer said.

In an effort to try and stop people from joining overseas terrorist groups, Congressman Robert Pittenger of North Carolina’s 9th District has introduced a bill that will restrict citizens from traveling to foreign countries where governments allow terrorists to engage in armed conflicts.

Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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