CEP Analysis: Converts Who Became Foreign Fighters, Recruiters, and Domestic Terrorists

(New York, NY) – As terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda continue to search for new followers capable of being radicalized to violence, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) is releasing a new report that explores the diverse backgrounds of 131 American, Canadian, European, and Australian converts to Islam who have attempted or succeeded in becoming foreign fighters, propagandists or recruiters, and domestic terrorists.  

Examples of European and Australian extremist converts who became radicalized include Kalid Masood, who killed at least four people in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in London on March 22, 2017; and British-born Sally Jones and Australian Musa Cerantonio, both of whom have become high-level recruiters and advocates for ISIS.

CEP’s report found that at least 60 percent converted at age 25 or younger; 28 percent pledged allegiance to or acted on behalf of ISIS; 18 percent allied themselves with al-Qaeda or its affiliates; and 18 percent were influenced by radical preacher and terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki.

Jamal Ahjjaj, an imam at As-Soennah Mosque in The Hague, once observed that converts to Islam are “the most vulnerable because they do not yet fully understand Islam,” noting that “sometimes there are people – the wrong people – waiting outside the mosque to greet them.”                                                                                       

To explore the CEP report, Extremist Converts, please click here.

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