U.S. far-right extremists committed over 200 homicides since 1990, report shows

Most of fatal far-right attacks were committed by white supremacists against social minorities, as they targeted persons due to their racial or religious background, sexual orientation or identity.

October 30, 2018 17:07
3 minute read.
A woman reacts at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shoot

A woman reacts at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 29, 2018. (photo credit: CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/REUTERS)


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Between 1990 and 2018 there were over 217 ideologically motivated homicide incidents committed by far-Right extremists in the US, a report by a counter-terror think tank said on Tuesday.

The report by START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland) using its Extremist Crimes Database (ECDB) comes in the aftermath of the murders of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last Shabbat.

According to the database, most of the far-Right fatal attacks – 166 of the 217 – were committed by white supremacists against social minorities, as they targeted persons due to their racial or religious background, sexual orientation or identity.

A small percentage were targeted “for being ideological enemies of the far-Right or viewed as worthless to society, such as homeless persons,” said the report.

More than half of the victims in this enemy group were targeted because they were racial or ethnic minorities.

In a parallel report, START said that it used its Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the US database to identify 2,149 Islamist, far-Left, far-Right, and single- issue extremists who have radicalized to violent and non-violent extremism in the US from 1948-2017 and analyzed the differences between the ideological groups.

Far-Right extremists make up the largest ideological group in that database at 922, followed by Islamist extremists at 496. The remainder are split between far-Left extremists at 367 and individuals in the “single-issue” category – whose beliefs vary, but include anti-abortion extremists, Puerto Rican nationalists, and members of the Jewish Defense League – at 364 persons.

START’s data showed that radicalization in the US has occurred in several waves.

According to the report, these waves may correspond to the rise of far-Left extremism in the 1970s, far-Right extremism beginning in the 1980s and periodically dipping and rising Islamist extremism which grew after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Data showed an increase in the number of extremists on both the left and right, including 90 new far-Right cases (up from 66 in 2016), and 28 new far-Left cases (up from 13 in 2016).

The vast majority of states have had less than five homicides committed in their jurisdiction in the last 28 years. Only five states have had more than 10 far- Right ideologically motivated homicides, including Oregon at 11, Florida at 14, Pennsylvania at 15, Texas at 21 and California at 33.

The report said that these numbers “are not purely a function of a state’s population, since New York only had six homicides, despite its large population.”

According to START, from 1990 to 2018, far-Right extremists committed 11 ideologically motivated homicide incidents in the US that “purposefully targeted persons or locations due to their actual or perceived Jewish identity” which led to 23 deaths.

Preliminary data for a study relating to attacks on Jews indicated that between 1990 and 2014, there were nearly 100 ideologically motivated violent plots against Jewish individuals and targets in the US that were planned by over 25 far-Right individuals or groups.

In almost 75% of those plots, the suspects selected specific synagogues or Jewish persons to attack, while in around 85% of cases those plots were foiled by law enforcement.

START’s Extremist Crimes Database “includes a systematic collection of opensource data on financial and violent criminal behavior in the United States associated with far-Right, far-Left, and al-Qaeda-like groups and movements. The ECDB does not exclusively profile terrorist attacks; rather, it records criminal incidents committed by extremist groups or their supporters.”

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