A new investigation suggests that dozens of Americans have showed open support of ISIS, and they've all got something in common — they're following a radical cleric in Michigan.
Vocativ's deep-web reporting found a network of American ISIS supporters, many of whom have expressed their support for ISIS on social media. The government is investigating one of the supporters, an unidentified man who is a student at a religious university in the Midwest and is originally from New York City, the school told Vocativ. The Joint Terrorism Task Force is "meeting to determine the threat level" the student poses to the school, according to the university.
In addition to the student, a second ISIS supporter who lives in Texas was recently forced out of a local mosque for exhibiting extremism, and a third ISIS supporter teaches at a mosque school in Minnesota and has posted ISIS propaganda videos online. All three of these Americans follow Ahmad Musa Jibril, a Michigan-based cleric, Vocativ found. Jibril spent six years in prison for money laundering and tax evasion after being kicked out of a mosque for "urging his followers to kill non-Muslims," according to Vocativ. Jibril, 43, has a significant social following and posts his radical sermons to YouTube.
Jibril spoke at the University of Michigan at Dearborn in 2004, and former students told Vocativ that Jibril spread hate speech "labeling certain Muslims as apostates." Jibril, who is on probation, wears a GPS tracking device and is forbidden from leaving the eastern part of Michigan.
Vocativ estimates that there are as many as 12,000 foreign ISIS fighters in Syria from roughly 80 countries. As many as 60 percent of them follow Jibril on Twitter, according to research from King's College in London.