Muslim Americans are increasingly worried that Islamic terror groups have expanded their reach and have been using their mosques as a recruiting platform for violent jihadis.
The latest news out of the region comes as the US considers its own homegrown terror threat, with the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate under threat from a host of new groups.
A recent report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) suggested that in the last year, the number of US citizens believed to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS or other militant groups has increased by almost 20% in the past five years.
And in a new report released by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a Washington-based think tank, more than 1,000 American Muslims have traveled abroad to fight in Syria and ISIS’s ranks, an increase of more than 70% since 2014.
While the CRS report did not specify the origin of the individuals it identified as returning to the US to fight, it said that they often traveled to places like Saudi Arabia and Jordan to join jihadist groups.
Many of the travelers have returned to the United States, according to CRS, citing the fear that their travels will encourage other Muslims to return home and become radicalized.
The CRS’s report said that since 2014, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has reported that it has been receiving about 2,000 “returnees” per month from both the Middle East and North Africa countries, and that they have all traveled to fight for the group.
According to the CSP, most of these returning fighters have come from Muslim communities that are under the control of ISIS.
CRS said that the vast majority of these returnees have come to fight the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Syrian Kurdish-led military alliance that is waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian government in Syria.
The group has also claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against US military facilities in Iraq, including the USS Cole bombing in Aden, Yemen.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been responsible for more than 2,700 attacks on US facilities and personnel since 2014 (the majority of which have been launched from inside the United Kingdom), according to a 2016 report from The Washington Post.
The report said the number was up from 1,300 attacks in 2016 and that attacks on the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased since then.
The terror group is known to be using social media to recruit members and train them in weapons of mass destruction.
The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, published a report earlier this month that said that ISIS had set up fake Twitter accounts and used “unverified” social media accounts to spread its propaganda.
In its report, the Center said that some of the “sources” it interviewed said that at least a third of ISIS’s followers have come across as “non-American.”
The report cited an individual who claimed to have been recruited to join the group by an ISIS recruiter who had “learned the language, culture, and customs of the people he was going to recruit.”
In one case, the recruiter had said that he would be going to the “home of a Kurdish man who would be willing to travel to Turkey to meet with ISIS leaders.”
In the report, CRS also reported that ISIS has also been recruiting from other Muslim communities in the Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Saudi Arabia.
CSP said that it is “likely that these groups have utilized the resources of US mosques and mosques of other faiths in their recruitment efforts.”
While the number and scope of the attacks on American facilities has been on the rise, the CIR report found that the attacks have been relatively minor in comparison to the group’s global reach.
According the CRI, there were no reported attacks targeting US embassies or consulates in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, or other Muslim countries.
However, the reports noted that ISIS is also targeting US military personnel and installations, especially US facilities in the US.
The Pentagon has been investigating the possible role of foreign extremists in attacks on its facilities and has issued a public alert on the matter.
The Associated Press reported that the military’s Joint Special Operations Command said it had identified a “high level” of foreign extremist involvement in the attacks.
However the group did not identify any specific groups or individuals.
The attacks have also prompted a backlash from some Republican lawmakers, who have questioned the need to take on foreign threats.
“I think it’s an overreach to say that there’s no place for terrorists here in this country,” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) told The Hill.
“It’s just a big, scary thing that’s happening around the world.
And I don’t know that you can solve it in one place.
And that’s what’s so dangerous about it.
There’s a lot of places around the globe where they have these kind of problems.
We can’t be a nation of cowards.
We have to be proactive.
And we have to stop letting this happen.” The