How Many Americans in ISIS? FBI Is Not Sure

Definitely More than 100, Director Confirms

In comments today about the growing US war against ISIS, FBI Director James Comey conceded that he doesn’t have any real idea how many Americans have successfully joined ISIS, but he does know it’s an “urgent threat.”

Last year, officials were estimating “dozens” of US fighters had tried to join the various Syrian rebel factions, including ISIS. Comey today put the number who had just joined ISIS at over 100.

How much over is not clear, as Comey says he doesn’t know if it’s 100-200, or 100-500, or even 100-1,000. Well over 1,000 ISIS fighters are known to have come from EU member nations, with large numbers from France.

Previously, the big concern with such rebels was that when the Syrian Civil War eventually ended, ISIS-linked fighters would return to the West with EU and US passports that gave them easy access to targets most jihadists just don’t have.

With the US now a direct participant in the war against ISIS, the blowback could come much sooner, and be much more serious as the US establishes itself as the primary antagonist to the ISIS state.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.