The average age of suspects charged with Islamic State-related crimes in the United States is 26, according to a study compiled by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.
As of March 2014, 100 people have been charged across 25 states with actions connected to sympathizing with ISIS. Actions include, but are not limited to, traveling or attempting to travel to Iraq and other ISIS-held territory, and plotting domestic terror attacks — like the one at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last June, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The latest was the August 3 arrest of 36-year-old Nicholas Young, a Washington, D.C. Metro Transit police officer.
The program’s deputy director, Seamus Hughes, told GW Today that ISIS sympathizers on American soil represent different backgrounds. “Those who have been charged with ISIS-related crimes come from all walks of life including government employers, doctors and other professions,” Hughes said. “The issue with ISIS recruitment is that there is not a typical profile. There is no cookie-cutter image.”
In a story last December about ISIS followers in the U.S., Eric Schmitt of the New York Times said these followers are young and diverse. “The Islamic State recruits defy any single profile, the study found, although they are younger than previous terrorism suspects, are drawn heavily from converts to Islam and reflect increasingly prominent roles for women in the terrorist organization,” Schmitt wrote. “John P. Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, has said that of the terrorism-related arrests in the past 18 months, mostly involving the Islamic State, 80 percent of those arrested were younger than 30, and 40 percent were under 21.”
Since 2014, GW's Program on Extremism has monitored and studied cases of terrorism at home and abroad. The organization has examined more than 7,000 legal documents related to the arrests.