Despite its recent battlefield losses in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has now surpassed al Qaeda in the race to recruit recruiting future jihadis from the U.S., Europe and elsewhere across the globe.
The Islamic State’s ascendancy has had the most impact among American-based recruits, analysts with the RAND Corporation said in a new review released Tuesday.
ISIS “has been more successful than its predecessor organization, al Qaeda, in drawing Americans to its cause,” analysts say. Focusing less on a possible terror recruit’s Islamic faith or their ties to the Middle East has allowed Islamic State to tap into a recruit pool all but untouched by the older al Qaeda.
Islamic State converts are “more likely to be younger, less educated, and a U.S.-born citizen,” the survey found.
RAND analysts also found a majority of new U.S. terror recruits are not of Middle East descent, but rather Caucasian or black.
“The stereotype of a Muslim, Arab, immigrant male as the most vulnerable to extremism is not representative of many terrorist recruits today,” said lead author Heather Williams.
The RAND review was based on a comprehensive examination of all known American citizens recruited into ISIS or al Qaeda since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The decline of al Qaeda’s position accelerated after founder Osama Bin Laden was killed in May 2011, after a Navy SEAL team raided his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.