One of the U.S.’s approaches to stopping ISIS has been arresting American citizens and residents who may be connected to the terror group. Last week, three young men were arrested for discussing possible terror plots in online ISIS message boards. This week, a 17-year-old Virginia high school student was arrested on suspicions that he is an ISIS recruiter.
Although the U.S. still has essentially no concrete plan as to how to stop ISIS from advancing in Iraq and Syria, its campaign has been most effective within its own country’s borders. The growing trend of arresting people for possible connection to ISIS, however, represents an area of moral ambiguity. There’s technically nothing illegal about traveling to Iraq or Syria or helping others get to either of those places. Conspiring to kill is one thing, but no American citizen or resident should be in jail for thought crime.
According to our most recent poll, the majority of Americans disagree. Our poll asked the following question: “Does the government have the right to arrest citizens for attempting to join ISIS?” The overwhelming majority of respondents — 75.6 percent — said “Yes.” Only 24.4 percent said “No.” Out of the respondents who disclosed their income, those who make $0-$24,999 were the most likely to say “Yes.” Conversely, those making $100,000-$149,999 were more likely to say “No.” By slim margins, respondents from the South favored “Yes” while respondents from the West favored “No.”
Thinking about joining ISIS is one of the strangest crimes anyone could commit in the 21st century. ISIS has a strong social media presence, an active recruitment approach, and supporters around the world. They’ve also been deemed a terror group by the United States government, so all of their American supporters pose a potential threat. As long as the investigations and trials in these cases remain fair and unprejudiced, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to root out ISIS’s support at home. Since the beginning of the War on Terror, the government simply hasn’t proven that fairness is something they’re capable of achieving. According to this poll, at least they have the majority of Americans behind them.