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FBI Chief: Islamic State Losing Attraction in US

FILE - FBI Director James Comey, shown testifying before a House panel in February 2016, says terrorists are continuing their efforts to recruit "troubled souls."

The number of Americans trying to travel overseas to join Islamic State militants has dropped since last year, FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

The FBI used to encounter "six, eight, 10'' such Americans per month in 2014 and the first half of 2015. But since then, agents have tracked an average of one person a month trying to travel, or actually traveling, to join the extremist group in the Middle East.

"There's no doubt that something has happened that is lasting, in terms of the attractiveness of the nightmare which is the Islamic State to people from the United States,'' Comey told reporters at a news conference.

While he gave no explanation for the decline, Comey said the terrorists were continuing their efforts to recruit "troubled souls."

The FBI has investigated more than 1,000 cases to determine a person's level of radicalization and potential for violence, Comey said. About 80 percent involve Islamic State.

"There's still a presence online, and troubled people are still turning to this and at least being interested in it,'' he said.

Comey made the remarks as three Somali men went on trial in Minnesota, accused of trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.

Mohamed Farah, Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar are charged with conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State and commit murder outside the United States.

They are part of a group of 10 who faced similar federal charges. Six individuals connected to the Minneapolis case have pleaded guilty, and one reportedly has already gone to Syria.