ISIS-Related Arrests in Southern California

ISIS-Related Arrests in Southern California


This week, two young Southern California men were arrested by the FBI on suspicion of joining and aiding ISIS. The FBI stated that they did not use informants to lure the suspects in this specific case. The arrests were made after a preliminary investigation based on the suspects’ social media activities where they expressed support for ISIS. They were both apprehended after one of the suspects left for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to travel to Turkey to join ISIS and the second suspect purchased his plane ticket.

The FBI made it a point in briefing community leaders that mosques would not be implicated in the counterterrorism investigation. In the discourse on countering violent extremism, there needs to be more dialogue between communities and law enforcement in determining the role of each.

Regardless of the pitfalls in current US government policies vis a vis countering violent extremism, we as a community need to amplify the counter-narrative against ISIS so their attempt to lure young people and converts to commit acts of violence is mitigated.

ISIS uses social media to prey on impressionable people. According to law enforcement, ISIS puts out close to 100,000 tweets per day and there are at least 50,000 ISIS-related Twitter accounts. In 2010, MPAC released a video, called “Injustice Cannot defeat Injustice,” as an example of leveraging social media to counter violent extremist ideology.

According to an FBI spokeswoman, the two suspects are due to appear in federal court later today. We await the court hearing which will determine the innocence or guilt of the defendants. MPAC is working to bridge the relationship between law enforcement and communities to ensure that communities are safe and are treated as partners rather than suspects. We are working to ensure more dialogue in the future to begin exploring ways to counter the ISIS threat, while protecting the sanctity of mosques.

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