Study: Since 9/11, ‘Right-Wing Terrorists’ More Deadly Than ‘Jihadists’

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 26, 2015

A new tally from New America think tank shows that some Americans are worried about the wrong thing when it comes to stateside attacks. In the nearly 14 years since September 11, 2011, when Al Qaeda operatives used airplanes to kill nearly 3,000 Americans, more people have died at the hands of people they describe as "right-wing terrorists" than people they classify as "jihadists."

By New America’s count, 26 people have died in attacks credited to so-called jihadists, including the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Texas that left 13 dead. When it comes to attacks waged by people professing far right-wing ideologies—including white supremacists, antigovernment zealots, and other non-Muslim extremists—48 lives have been taken. The nine victims of the Mother Emanuel church massacre are included in that number. In all, New America found that there were 19 deadly attacks by right-wing extremists, versus seven "jihadist" attacks. Murders in which no ideological motive was determined, such as the Sandy Hook shooting, are not included in the tally.

University of Massachusetts terrorism research John G. Horgan told The New York Times that scholars have long known that the data doesn’t support public perception: “There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown. And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated,” he said. “If there’s one lesson we seem to have forgotten 20 years after Oklahoma City, it’s that extremist violence comes in all shapes and sizes. And very often, it comes from some place you’re least suspecting.”