White Americans are the biggest terror threat in the United States, having killed more people in attacks than Muslims or any other group in the last 14 years, according to a new study.
The research, conducted by the New America Foundation, examined the 26 attacks on US soil defined as acts of terror since 9/11, and found that 19 of those attacks were committed by non-Muslims.
Since the September 11 atrocity, 48 people have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, compared to 26 killed by people who claimed to be jihadists. The non-Muslim groups included right-wing, racist, and anti-government organizations.
However, the study found that radical Islamists were indicted more frequently than non-Muslim extremists and served longer sentences.
“From a legal point of view, when people go into court, the Justice Department has certain guidelines about sentencing. So, for instance, if a crime is deemed to have a terrorist underpinning, the sentences that are handed down are longer than it would be just for a conventional crime,” Peter Bergen, vice president and director of studies for the New America Foundation, told NPR.
For the purpose of the research, terrorism was defined as an “act of political violence against a civilian target by someone other than the state,” Bergen said.
Last week’s Charleston shooting, which left nine people dead at a historically black church, was included in the study. The shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, supported white supremacist ideology.
Also included in the count was a 2012 Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin, which left six people dead. The shooting was carried out by Michael Page, who was involved in neo-Nazi and white supremacist circles, and had founded a white supremacist band.
A 2011 multi-state killing spree was also listed, during which David Pedersen and Holly Grigsby killed four people. The indictment alleged the two were members of a criminal enterprise whose purposes included “promoting and advancing a white supremacist movement to ‘purify’ and ‘preserve’ the white race…”
The findings align with a survey published this week, which asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments in the US to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed anti-government violence, while 39 percent listed Al-Qaeda-inspired violence.
The study was conducted by Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University, and will be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum, the New York Times reported.