Nat-Sec Group Profiles Islamic State Suspects

     (CN) – Most suspects related to the Islamic State group are young, male U.S. citizens in their early 20s, according to a new report by the Center on National Security at Fordham Law.
     Published Wednesday, the report “Case By Case: ISIS Prosecutions in the United States” covers 101 cases from the first Islamic State-related prosecution in March 2014 up to June 30, 2016.
     While 94 of the suspects were indicted in federal court, seven were killed by law enforcement.
     The report found that the average age from all 101 cases is 26, while most predominant age is 20. According the report, from data available, most Islamic State-related suspects in the United States had graduated high school, but not college.
     Researchers had a recommendation based on the finding that many of the suspects were 26 and under.
     “Efforts to intervene with or redirect these late adolescents towards more constructive futures will require focus on individual needs and circumstances, rather than on predictive large scale socio-economic determinants,” the report says.
     While 80 percent of the suspects are American, the report notes coincidentally that “almost 80%” find dissatisfaction with the United States.
     The report breaks down U.S.-based Islamic State suspects into five categories: foreign fighters, facilitators, plotters, cyber terrorists and associates of the Islamic State.
     FBI Director James Comey reported that there are more than 900 Islamic State-related, ongoing investigations in all 50 states. Particular hotspots include the New York-New Jersey region, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Minneapolis.
     The report mentions that U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, presiding over several cases in Minneapolis, tapped an expert to perform risk assessments and develop rehabilitation programs for U.S. suspects convicted of in Islamic State cases.
     Daniel Koehler is with the German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies in Berlin.
     In a graph that measured how far Islamic State suspects reached in their plan before their arrest, the report found the most frequent point was “Detained En Route to Airport or Gate,” followed by the lowest-reaching benchmark “Only Facilitated Others.”
     So far, 46 individual cases have resulted in convictions. While 85 percent of these entered guilty pleas, the remaining seven convictions occurred after a trial.
     Not counting the seven dead suspects, that leaves 48 cases still pending. There have been no acquittals.
     Regarding pretrial and post-conviction circumstance, the report found “a small but discernible trend towards intervention, diversion, and rehabilitation in these cases.” Researchers found instances of defendants being released to their parents’ custody, released on probation and into halfway houses.
     The most frequent charge all Islamic State-related cases is Section 2339B of Title 18: “Providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”
     According to the report, the average sentence for individuals convicted of Islamic State-related crimes is 9.2 years. This average is five years fewer than the average sentence for individuals convicted of al-Qaida-related crimes in the years 2001-2014.
     The 2016 report, Fordham Law’s second report on such prosecutions, finds a greater frequency in the last year of Islamic State cases involving FBI informants and undercover agents.
     The total share of Islamic State-related cases that involved government informants and undercover agents is 59 percent, but the number jumps to 71 percent when looking at domestic-plot cases involving informants or undercovers.
     Researchers additionally found an increase in law enforcement’s use of social-media monitoring and interaction being combined with face-to-face contact with informants and undercover agents.
     Interest in joining the foreign fight in Syria does appear to have dropped, the repott found, noting this was an element of just six out of 16 cases in 2016.
     The corollary to this statistic, however, is that U.S. suspects are increasingly plotting acts of violence in America on behalf of the Islamic State.
     Complaints show these plots are primarily focused on government and military officials and personnel.
     The 2016 report found that the defendant received a notice under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in only 26 percent of Islamic State-related cases.
     Of those cases that did receive a FISA notice, in which the government was authorized through classified courts for surveillance of those suspected of being agents of a foreign power, only 8 percent have been convicted with the remaining 92% still pending.
     A day after Fordham released the report, federal prosecutors obtained an Islamic State-related guilty plea in Ohio.
     Munir Abdulkader, 21, pleaded guilty to attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States; providing material support to the Islamic State; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
     The West Chester, Ohio, man was charged with plotting to kill an employee of a U.S. military installation and then attack a local police station.
     Prosecutors note that Adbulkader expressed support for the Islamic State via Twitter, making statements in April 2015 about travelling to Syria to join the terrorist group.
     By May, Abdulkader switched gears and began focusing on a U.S. attack.
     He was arrested after buying an AK-47 assault rifle on May 21 in a controlled purchase.
     Before reaching Wednesday’s plea, the government notes that Abdulkader pleaded guilty to the three charges in the information on March 24, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett.

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