Domestic Terrorists

In April 2015 wrote;

“The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently released an in-depth report on terrorism in the United States. Covering April 2009 to February 2015, the report (titled “The Age of the Wolf”) found that during that period, “more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than jihadists.”

I have said this before in this blog site and in my newspaper columns; I am more afraid of domestic terrorists than the Taliban or ISIS.

Case in point: Three domestic terrorists, all evangelical white nationalists calling themselves The Crusaders, were arrested and convicted “of plotting to bomb an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshiped in Garden City (Kan.), following a four-week trial in Wichita.”

The incident occurred in 2016 and the trial was concluded in April 2018 with their convictions.

When you Google “domestic terrorism,” you will find a Wikipedia listing of only those prominent terrorist attacks, 13 in all, that resulted in death, injury or property damage. By far not a complete list.

And not all terrorist attacks are successful. Many are thwarted by authorities well before any one is killed. In January 2013 Jessica Zuckerman, writing for the Heritage Foundation, stated that there had been some 54 failed terrorist attacks between 9/11 and 1/13. Unfortunately, she failed to provide a listing of these failed plots of domestic terrorism.

According to the Cornell School of Law, “domestic terrorism” is defined by 18 U.S. Code § 2331. Definitions.

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United     States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or                 kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States

This catchall definition would include those who are inspired by their religious fervor and those who are plotting against the government for political purposes. Generally, as long as the terrorist plot is hatched by an American citizen or permanent resident and takes place on U.S. soil it is considered domestic terrorism.

While Wikipedia shows 13 “notable” domestic terrorist attacks, it fails to note others that either failed or did not gain national notoriety. Or those committed based on strictly racial profiles, such as the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. Or the 2015 murders committed by Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white supremacist who murdered nine African Americans during a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston, South Carolina. Or the August 2017 United the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that resulted with white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. ramming his car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring nearly 40 other people.

A more comprehensive listing of successful and unsuccessful domestic terrorist plots can be found under the heading of “Terrorism In The United States.”

Still the small incidents, those that seem to make only local news, are left out of the count.

The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) opening page has a single harrowing comment; “From Parkland to Pittsburgh, 2018 was a particularly active year for right-wing extremist murders.” They continue in a report titled “ADL Releases New Report Highlighting Increase in U.S. Incidents of Murder and Extremism in 2018.

“In 2018, domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S., a sharp increase from the 37 extremist-related murders documented in 2017, though still lower than the totals for 2015 (70) and 2016 (72)… Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement, although one had recently switched to supporting Islamist extremism. White supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings, which is typically the case.”

White supremacist organizations were responsible for 78 percent of the domestic terrorist attacks in the United States.

There appears to be no comprehensive and up to date listing of Christian hate groups in the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the ADL both maintain lists and interactive maps to explore. For the SPLC, if you take the three prominent Christian headings, there are some 103 Christian hate groups in the U.S. The ADL map provides general information concerning extremists incidents but no real specifics. And the numbers are not quite accurate.

The ADL map shows only one anti-Semitic incident occurring between 2017 and 2018. A short research of the Columbia Missourian found three at the University of Missouri. And it does not include those isolated incidents like the one I reported on in 2009 occurring at the local IHOP restaurant. Nor do these maps report on the marches that take place in an effort to intimidate.

All-in-all, the rate of discrimination and violence against minority groups perpetrated by domestic terrorist and extremist groups has been on the rise since the election of President Trump. We must remain vigilant  and put an end to the domestic terrorists before they strike again.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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