On Friday’s “20/20,” Sawyer will present the results of a probe into how ISIS recruits people and what makes them vulnerable. Sawyer and a team of producers have been looking into the subject for more than a year, and the anchor will try to explain why some people want to become terrorists, and whether they are motivated by politics, religion or other factors.
The program will air Friday, November 3, at 10 p.m. eastern on ABC.
The special edition of “20/20” features exclusives with teenage American recruits, former ISIS members and parents who have had to turn in and track down their children. Sawyer goes inside investigations with law enforcement to analyze surveillance video and tapes. And she also reports on the efforts of technology companies to counter ISIS propaganda on social media and encrypted sites that flourish on the dark web. David Sloan is the senior executive producer on the project.
Sawyer talks to the teenage son of a retired Marine captain from a Christian home in North Carolina who went from winning trophies at school sports to planning a terrorist attack after connecting with a top ISIS recruiter; three teenage girls who secretly booked a flight to join ISIS after being seduced online with a promise of paradise; and a couple from Mississippi – an honor student who was a soccer player and his pre-med cheerleader Baptist girlfriend – who tried to join ISIS.
Since 2014, there have been 13 violent ISIS-inspired attacks in the United States motivated in part by ISIS propaganda online, killing more than 70 people and injuring more than 100. With 1,000 investigations and 146 federal cases across the country, young Americans from different backgrounds and religions are charged with trying to join the forces of terror. Of those, 40% are not born Muslim, 89% are male, and the most common age is 20 years old, according to the Center on National Security, Fordham University School of Law.