Majority of US terrorists are far-right extremists: Report

Majority of US terrorists are far-right extremists: Report
New research finds that US terror incidents involving right-wing extremists are almost twice the number of those involving extreme Islamists.
2 min read
24 June, 2017
Charleston shooter Dylann Roof [c] was not classed as a terrorist by authorities [Getty]
Far-right extremists are behind far more US terror plots and attacks than extreme Islamists, a new report has found.

The new report by the Nation Institute's Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting says that there were almost twice as many terror-related incidents by right-wing extremists than Islamists in the US between 2008 and 2016.

Of 201 documented terror incidents in the US in this time period - including plots and actual attacks - 115 were carried out by white supremacists and "sovereign citizens".

Islamist extremists accounted for only 63 of the cases examined, while left-wing militants, including eco-terrorists and animal rights activists, accounted for 19.

The report found that attacks by far-right extremists are often more deadly, with almost a third of incidents related to this grouping resulting in deaths.  By comparison, 13 percent of Islamist attacks caused deaths in the US between 2008-2016.

Extreme Islamist terror was, however, responsible for a higher death toll, having claimed a total of 90 lives. Right-wing hardliners killed 79 people.

The Investigative Fund's findings shed further light on the nature of domestic threats to US security, particularly amid US President Donald Trump's heavy focus on Islamist terror.

Trump, who has often used his Twitter account to condemn internation acts of Islamist terror, remained silent when a terror attack was perpetrated in London against Muslims leaving a mosque

The findings, however, reflect those of previous studies into domestic terror. This includes an ongoing study that has been conducted by the New America Foundation since 9/11, which has noted an almost two-to-one ratio of attacks by far-right militants to Islamist extremists.

The Investigative Fund's map of US terror incidents since 2008 [The Investigative Fund]

While the importance of far-right terror seems clear from studies, media coverage has focussed heavily on attacks perpetrated by Muslims.

A recent study by researchers at Georgia State University found that US attacks related to Muslims receive as much as 4.5 times more media coverage than other incidents.

According to the research, the average attack with a Muslim perpetrator is covered in 90.8 articles, those with a Muslim, foreign-born perpetrator are covered in 192.8 articles on average, while other attacks received an average of 18.1 articles.

Further complicating matters is how US law enforcement defines and records terrorism.

The case of the Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, for instance, shows how a white perpetrator may dodge the labelling of 'terrorist' even after committing a clear hate crime intended to cause terror.

Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, was reported to have specifically said that he was at the church "to shoot black people".