Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Svetoslav Derderyan

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Fitzgerald

Third Advisor

Dr. Levente Szentkirályi


Individuals all around the world are leaving their homes to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as foreign fighters. With a focus on those from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, this study provides a novel mixed methods approach to analyze the social, political, economic, and online factors driving a country’s output of foreign fighters. Through multiple time series regression models, I find that low migrant acceptance, economic equality, high unemployment, and a higher percent of the population using the internet are all causally related to a larger number of foreign fighters by population. Although the exact roots of radicalization are difficult to pinpoint even with anecdotal evidence, my findings demonstrate that a coalescence of social, economic, and online factors influence the path to ISIS whereas political conditions are limited in their causality.