Sixty-two percent of Americans are ‘very concerned’ about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, according to the Pew Research Center. This is the highest number ever recorded in the study.
The escalating percentage should come as little surprise, particularly considering the recent discovery that ISIS has at least tripled in size since its original estimate. It is now believed that more than 30,000 ISIS fighters exist. There are also reports about individuals from around the world continuing to join the terrorist group.
The Daily Mail reported that two girls (aged just 15 and 16) fled from Australia to Syria to join the jihadist group. More than 100 Australians are believed have gone abroad to join ISIS, the article stated. We also know that dozens of Americans as well as citizens of other Western countries such as Britain and Canada have joined ISIS.
The founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, Imam Syed Soharwardy, explained to Business Insider:
"I cannot believe that there is no one from ISIS on the ground here in Canada or the U.S. or Europe. They are now recruiting, so they are absolutely here,” he told IBTimes. “IS people, those who are very rigid fanatics, they do live in this country, they do recruit. They do facilitate in recruitment.”
The mentor-recruit relationship often begins through religious seminars, community activities or classes that might look normal to the average Westerner, Soharwardy said. Of the five known foreign fighters in Syria from Calgary, Alberta, three attended the same mosque, Soharwardy said.
ISIS is also likely recruiting in colleges and high schools under the cover of student groups, Soharwardy said. Recruits are seeking camaraderie, and they often know someone who has joined a militant group beforehand. For example, after U.S. citizen Douglas McCain from California went to fight with ISIS in Syria, it was later discovered that he had lived in the same building as a classmate who joined al-Shabab, the Somali militant group with ties to al-Qaeda.
To the 14 percent of Americans who stated they are ‘not at all’ concerned about Islamic extremism, you should be.