WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: Since 9/11, America’s home-grown extremists have killed twice as many people in the United States as the jihadists have, says a report by a Washington think-tank, New America.
The report reveals that since Sept 11, 2001, white supremacists, anti-government fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists have killed 48 people while suspected Muslim jihadists have killed 26.
The report, which was highlighted by both The Washington Post and The New York Times, says that the slaying of nine African-Americans in a South Carolina church last week was only the latest in a string of lethal attacks.
All the attackers were Americans, most of them born and brought up here. New America identifies home-grown extremists as those motivated by racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law.
The victims include police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians.
The report also shows that non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 attacks since 9/11 but most of them were not listed as acts of terror. Muslim militants living in America carried out seven attacks in the last 14 years.
The surveyors asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 per cent listed anti-government violence, while 39pc listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence.
“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” Charles Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Centre on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Post.
John Horgan, who studies terrorism at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, said the mismatch between public perceptions and actual cases has become steadily more obvious to scholars. “There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown,” Mr Horgan said. “And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, anti-government violence has been underestimated.”
The New York Times pointed out that mass killings, in which no ideological motive is evident, such as those at a Colorado movie theatre and a Connecticut elementary school in 2012, were not included in the study.
NYT also pointed out that some killings by non-Muslims that most experts would categorise as terrorism have drawn only fleeting news media coverage. Some Muslim advocates complained to NYT that when the perpetrator of an attack is not Muslim, news media commentators quickly focus on the question of mental illness.
“With non-Muslims, the media bends over backward to identify some psychological traits that may have pushed them over the edge,” said Abdul Cader Asmal, a retired physician and a longtime spokesman for Muslims in
Boston. “Whereas if it’s a Muslim, the assumption is that they must have done it because of their religion.”