A new analysis of four polls on Arab public opinion towards the Islamic State (ISIS) reveals that at the low end, the terror group has 8.5 million strong supporters. If those who feel somewhat positively towards the group are counted the number rises to a stunning 42 million people.
The total estimate of support is based on three polls from 2014 and one from March 2015, conducted by various groups and pollsters for each of the 11 countries surveyed (Iraq, Syria, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon and Tunisia)
The polls estimate that there are 8,523,803 supporters of the Islamic State and an average of 5.8% support. If the average support level in the surveyed countries extends across the other 11 Arab countries, which have a total population of 370 million, there would be 21,460,000 strong supporters of ISIS in the Arab world overall.
This is both a conservative estimate and also was found to be in line with the November 2014 poll by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, which founds that 85% of Arabs view the Islamic State negatively and 4% view it positively. The 1.8 percent difference can be attributed to the margin of error in each of the polls and/or slight changes in public opinion.
The most pessimistic polls, which include those who view the Islamic State just somewhat positively, show an average of 11.5% of population in the surveyed countries. If this is consistent across the Arab world it would make over 42,550,000 Arabs ISIS supporters.
This result fits with a November 2014 survey which found that an additional 7% are somewhat supportive of ISIS for a total statistic of 11%.
The results indicate that ISIS enjoys both significant support in the Arab world but also has plenty of room to grow, a worrying trend given the speed at which they have risen to prominence.