MORGANTON, N.C. (WSPA) – A hearing was held Wednesday to discuss the case of a North Carolina teen accused of pledging allegiance to ISIS and killing his neighbor.
Justin Sullivan was arrested in 2015 and faces several charges, including attempting to aid ISIS, and attempting the commission of a murder-for-hire.
But Sullivan’s story isn’t unique.
There are reports of teens across the country being recruited by the terrorist group.
Political experts say teenagers are looking for a place to belong, and that’s exactly what ISIS offers them.
Lizabeth Zack, an Associate Professor of Sociology at USC Upstate, says Sullivan doesn’t fit the profile of a typical ISIS recruit.
“They tend to be millenials. Young men in their 20’s and 30’s,” she says.
Zack says teenage recruits right out of high school are rare in the United States, but there may be some reasons why they choose to support ISIS.
In the indictment, Sullivan says in a conversation with an undercover officer “I liked ISIS from the beginning, then I started thinking about death and stuff, so I became Muslim.”
Access to ISIS videos online is another contributing factor for recruits. Online communities also promise a sense of belonging, and a purpose for those who join.
The report says shortly after Sullivan converted to Islam, he started watching violent videos of killings online.
Sullivan’s trial date is set for October 31.