Nearly 70% of Americans view the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a “very serious threat,” outranking Iran, North Korea and Russia, according to a CNN/ORC poll. We are right to be concerned. The terror group is adept at spreading its radical, violent ideology and has proven effective in drawing foreign fighters from around the world. About 100 Americans have traveled to Syria to join ISIS’ bloody campaign, and given the trend, more a sure to attempt to leave in the coming months.

One area where ISIS recruiters have been successful in targeting young people is in the Somali-American community in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. In the most recent example, last week U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced charges against six Somali-Americans who were plotting to leave the United States to join ISIS.

Given the growing threat of ISIS recruitment in Minnesota, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate sponsored a field study through the National Center of Excellence for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE). Lead investigators (and Security Debrief contributors) Dr. Erroll Southers and Justin Hienz present the results from their fieldwork in a new study, “Foreign Fighters: Terrorist Recruitment and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programs in Minneapolis-St. Paul.”

View this important study on Security Debrief in a reader-friendly Web version. Some of the primary findings from the study include:

  • There is collaboration between ISIS and the al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab in recruiting Somali-Americans.
  • There are terrorist recruiters living in Minneapolis.
  • The recruitment process in Minnesota always includes face-to-face interaction with a recruiter. Social media messaging enhances recruitment but does not on its own yield foreign fighters.
  • Government CVE funding is going to the wrong groups, as there are organizations in Minnesota that use funds to increase personal wealth and prestige but do not address terrorist recruiting.

Security Debrief is proud to present this study and contribute to the global imperative to, in the words of President Obama, “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS.