Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminal Justice


Brent L. Smith

Committee Member

Christopher A. Shields

Second Committee Member

Kevin Fitzpatrick


Social sciences, Domestic terrorism, Extremism, Islamic extremism, Terrorism


During the summer of 2014, the terrorist organization Islamic State (commonly referred to as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) garnered international attention after its unprecedented territorial acquisitions and violence in the Middle East. Today, ISIS vies with al-Qaeda for leadership of the global Islamic Extremist movement and has extended its violence all over the world, including the United States. U.S. based supporters generally choose to engage with the ideology in one of three categories: as a foreign fighter, domestic plotter, or domestic non-plotter. Despite this threat, there is very little quantitative research concerning U.S. ISIS supporters and the incidents they plan.

Utilizing data from the American Terrorism Study (ATS), the current study compares ISIS perpetrators across the three support type categories, as well as ISIS and al-Qaeda and Associated Movements (AQAM) affiliated persons and incidents in the United States. I conducted Chi Square and Conjunctive Analysis of Case Configurations to determine significant differences.

The analysis indicated significant difference across ISIS support types with regard to gender and age of the individuals, and suggested common patterns in the types of individuals who choose to leave the U.S. or stay and engage in violence. Additional analysis indicated significant differences in the residency status and race between ISIS and AQAM perpetrators. Finally, results showed that, although ISIS and AQAM incidents have different configurations concerning targets, weapons, and group size, their success rates are relatively the same. In conclusion, there are important differences between ISIS and AQAM affiliated persons and incidents that may merit considering them as separate entities rather than together under the umbrella of Islamic Extremist.

Included in

Criminology Commons