By the Numbers: Homegrown Muslim-American Attacks Decline

Don't listen to the Doogie Howsers of terrorism -- the self-proclaimed experts who learned their trade on the internet and because their views fit the government's agenda, were able to parlay it into a career of testifying against suspects at trial. The cable news loves to put them on. Everyone is a terrorist to them.

The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy has been publishing yearly reports on the number of homegrown Muslim-American terror incidents. Their February 1, 2013 report (for which data is provided) shows such incidents continued to decline in 2012, for the third year in a row:

“Fourteen Muslim-Americans were indicted for violent terrorist plots in 2012, down from 21 the year before, bringing the total since 9/11 to 209, or just under 20 per year. The number of plots also dropped from 18 in 2011 to 9 in 2012. For the second year in a row, there were no fatalities or injuries from Muslim-American terrorism. … Sixty-six Americans were killed in mass shootings by non-Muslims in 2012 alone, twice as many fatalities as from Muslim-American terrorism in all 11 years since 9/11.”



Informants and undercover agents were involved in almost all of the Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered in 2012.

The National Geographic has this interview with Triangle Center Director David Schanzer today. He points out the Tsarnaev brothers:

  • used a common construction for their weapon that was readily available on the internet and did not include liquid or plastic explosives,
  • made no effort to leave the country,
  • appear to have been poorly financed
  • did not target an event that would have meaning for an international audience, and
  • did nothing to publicize a political cause.

Schanzer says of homegrown terror attacks:

Since 9/11, only eleven homegrown attacks have been successfully executed (including the Boston Marathon bombing), causing 21 deaths. The vast majority of these perpetrators have been apprehended before they could engage in violence. Homegrown terrorism is an ever-present threat, but even after this horrible week, it is a manageable one.

The Global Terrorism Database operated by the START Center at the University of Maryland has the most comprehensive listing of terrorist incidents around the world from 1970 to 2011

The decade since 9/11 has seen less terrorism (of all ideologies) than other recent decades. There were 168 attacks in the ten years after 9/11, but in the 1970s, there were 1357 attacks.

Schanzer also points out:

We have not eliminated the sources of grievance at the United States that gave rise to al Qaeda and could spawn other terrorist movements in the future.

On Muslim-Americans:

Al Qaeda's ideology has been rejected by almost all Muslim Americans. Every major Muslim American organization in the United States has consistently and vociferously denounced acts of terrorism, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Muslims Americans have cooperated with counterterrorism and law enforcement officials across the country. Studies show that a significant portion of the terrorism plots that have been thwarted are based on tips that have come from the Muslim American community. And many Muslim Americans are actively rebutting radical ideology within their communities, in their mosques, and on the internet.

While there is no profile of a homegrown American-Muslim terrorist.

One common strand is that many homegrown terrorists did not have a formal education and training in Islam. Their lack of this educational foundation makes them vulnerable to an ideology that claims to define the actions and beliefs of "good Muslims," but are actually contrary to the values and scripture of Islam.

Schanzer, like others, is unaware of any "precedent for radicalization of U.S.-based individuals connected to the Caucasus."

Unfortunately, the facts won't stop the bigotry and hate:

The worst of the phenomenon faced by Muslims, however, is the extraordinarily well-financed and pervasive network of anti-Islamic haters who have poisoned the dialogue about Muslims and Islam in America. This movement has enabled what ought to be fringe views held by the intolerant and bigoted few to infect the mainstream, including some elements that hold power within our political system. Muslims and those who support their rightful place as part of the American tapestry will need to redouble our efforts in light of the Boston attacks.

On a related note, UNC Professor Charles Karzner writes in the April, 2013 issue of the needlessly excessive sums Congress and the White House keep funneling to to national security:

This permanent state of emergency feeds the sense of insecurity that it is supposed to assuage. The exaggerated sense of threat degrades liberties through extended government intrusions like the provisions of the Patriot Act. The heightened concern with Islamic terrorism contributes to American fears of Muslims, who are unfairly cast into suspicion, through no fault of their own, simply by sharing the faith of extremists. The national security consensus in Washington keeps Americans scared.

Related: 9 questions about Chechnya and Dagestan you were too embarrassed to ask.

What we should be fearing is Republicans and the new assault they are launching on our civil liberties and constitutional rights, citing Boston as justification.

< Sunday Night Open Thread | The Cable News' Instant Experts on Chechnya >
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    Amen sister... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 08:29:48 AM EST
    when you put in perspective, terrorism is not the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...not even close.  Our government, our banks, our polluters, our motorists are all greater threats.

    It's just so horrific and senseless when it happens, it's almost impossible to keep it in perspective.  Greed is understandable, corruption is understandable, exploitation is understandable, even war...yet murdering total stranger civilians is impossible to understand.

    Those stats depend (none / 0) (#2)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:39:38 AM EST

    Those stats depend in large part on what gets classified as terrorism.  What is a terroristic threat to some is just an MRBD (Mouth Running, Brain Disengaged) jerk to others.  


    So you're saying ... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 10:17:05 AM EST
    ... the numbers of "homegrown Muslim-American terror incidents" could be even lower?

    BTW - In the link you provided, the suspect was not charged with terrorism.  More importantly, making a "terroristic threat" is not remotely the same as an act of terrorism.  It's typically one person threatening another with the intent to place them in fear (i.e. "terrorize" them).


    Yes lower, or higher (none / 0) (#4)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 11:46:25 AM EST

    Data that is the product of subjective choices always needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  That is particularly true if the choice can get you branded as an Islamophobe or a racist.  Such branding is not a big plus factor for a law enforcement career.



    Even more so - (none / 0) (#5)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 11:57:26 AM EST
    Data that is the product of subjective choices always needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

    ... claims that are made without so much as the tiniest bit of evidence to support them.

    Do you have even the tiniest shred of evidence that there have been acts of terrorism by "homegrown Muslim-American" that have been wrongly classified due to fear of being branded an Islamophobe or racist or (for that matter) for any reason?


    I see your point (none / 0) (#6)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 12:51:46 PM EST

    People considering their own self interest is so unheard of that the practice requires overwhelming evidence.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and all that.



    That would be your (straw) point (none / 0) (#7)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 01:13:01 PM EST
    My point is that you're making this claim  - not without "extraordinary proof" - not without "overwhelming" evidence - bit without the slightest shred of evidence.

    It would be like someone claiming these numbers are inflated (and were not acts of terrorism) because the arresting officers wanted to receive credit/career advancement for foiling a terrorist plot.

    Just a baseless, specious, evidence-free claim.


    Fort Hood is the most obvious (none / 0) (#8)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 02:12:39 PM EST

    The Obama administration classifies the Fort Hood shooting as "workplace violence" rather than terrorism.

    Such classifications are inherently and inescapably political, regardless of who is making them.

    BTW, do you have a so much as a shred of evidence that self interest or political interest plays no role in these classifications?  


    Hehehehehehehehehe ... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:01:09 PM EST
    Yes lower, or higher.  Data that is the product of subjective choices always needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  That is particularly true if the choice can get you branded as an Islamophobe or a racist.  Such branding is not a big plus factor for a law enforcement career...

    Fort Hood is the most obvious.  The Obama administration classifies the Fort Hood shooting as "workplace violence" rather than terrorism.

    Check again.  I hate to break it to you, but your "most obvious example" disagrees with you.  If you actually read the brief report (p. 4) that is the subject of this post, you would see that the Fort Hood shooting is specifically listed as an act of Muslim-American terrorism and is therefore included in those statistics.

    BTW, do you have a so much as a shred of evidence that self interest or political interest plays no role in these classifications?

    Nope, but then again, I have no need for it, since that's not my claim.  I'm simply pointing out that your claim is completely and utterly baseless and without a shred of evidence to support it.

    As usual.


    Perhaps you missed the point. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 08:08:39 PM EST

    The Obama administration classifies the Fort Hood shooting as "workplace violence" rather than terrorism.



    Not at all (none / 0) (#11)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:05:55 PM EST
    Perhaps you missed the point.  You suggested the report cited above may be understating the number of domestic, Muslim-American terrorist attacks, because the definition of terrorist attacks in the report is subjective and because law enforcement may inaccurately classify terrorist attacks as something else due to a fear of being called racist or Islamaphobic. You've posted absolutely no evidence to support your theory that this report is inaccurate and understates the number of terror attacks, and the one example you do cite is specifically cited in the report.


    BTW - The reason the DOD did not classify the Fort Hood shooting as a terrorist attack is because the investigation was inconclusive re: Hasan's motives for the shooting:

    Michael Welner, M.D., a leading forensic psychiatrist with experience examining mass shooters, said that the shooting had elements common to both ideological and workplace mass shootings.

    Carl Tobias, an analyst of terrorist attacks opined that the attack did not fit the profile of terrorism, and was more similar to the Virginia Tech massacre, committed by a student believed to be severely mentally ill.

    The Webster Commission, a panel of experts appointed to examine the FBI's handling of the case, spent over 2 years examining all of the evidence in the case and did not find sufficient evidence to classify it as terrorism.


    Workplace violence :)? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 09:11:05 AM EST
    A general court-martial (can't happen to you if you are a Walmart employee), authorized to consider the death penalty (subject to state laws unless you are a United States soldier and then subject to your command).

    As a soldier's wife it just cracks me up that you would attempt to say that the Obama administration and by association any military authority serving the Obama administration labels what Hasan did to be workplace violence.  Oooookaaaay


    What he's referring to (none / 0) (#13)
    by Yman on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 10:26:07 AM EST
    He's talking about a DOD report that classified the attack as workplace violence rather than a terrorist attack.  It comes down to a question of Hasan's motives, and apparently Hasan hasn't discussed them.  There is some evidence the attack was motivated by political/religious purposes (he shouted "Allahu Akhbar", he opposed wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, and emailed Anwar al-Awlaki - although the last was consistent with his work).  There was also evidence that pointed toward "workplace violence" - he was a loner, psychologically unstable and alienated from his fellow soldiers/officers.  The DOD and FBI indicated they could not find enough evidence to classify it as an act of terrorism, and don't want to make any changes to its classification until Hasan's trial is over, saying it could make the prosecution more difficult.  Some of the victims/families have filed a suit to have their injuries deemed "combat related", where they would be eligible for additional benefits and Purple Hearts.

    For purposes of the report above, however, this attack was most certainly included as an act of Muslim-Americsn domestic terrorism.


    I was aware of the family members (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 11:19:31 AM EST
    And their combat related case.  I find that incredibly and some of us in the military are even a little insulted by that because Hasan is a United States soldier.  The fact that he is Muslim plays no role in any legal understanding of what occurred that day.  He was not shunned by all soldiers.  I know that for a fact because one of his peers is a friend of ours.  Did some find him unstable?  Yes.  Did some close to him suspect mental health issues and not properly consider that?  Yes.  He was not shunned by his peers though.  His peer group is highly educated and very small.

    Soldiers very often don't want to deploy and your case manager and command are usually very callous about that issue.  My spouse has a health concern right now and you can't believe how callous some in power can be because the biggest fear in the United States military is the fear of enabling the malingerer.

    It was a blue on blue attack, they happen all over the military.  Soldiers attack soldiers all the time, this was just a planned mass attack.  He is being tried as a soldier though, not a civilian.  He IS a soldier, not a civilian.  Workplace violence seems a very silly thing to call it to me because of my proximity to the military and attacking your fellow soldiers in uniform deliberately is the most shameful act a soldier can perform and is considered a death penalty act in the military.


    I think one of the issues (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 11:29:50 AM EST
    That led to Hasan's mental health issues being ignored after the fact that he owed the military a lot for his education, was that they expected great things out of him.

    He was Muslim, he was a soldier, he was very bright from what I have been told.  They expected him to serve in the conflict and to write papers from a Muslim American soldier perspective that reflected well on the military and the mission.

    By God produce, you were one hell of a catch and we paid Hasan.  A Muslim shrink soldier, produce now!


    From everything I've read ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Yman on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 11:51:17 AM EST
    ... I would agree entirely, although I don't know anyone who worked with him personally.  I wouldn't use the word "shunned" - I don't know how his colleagues treated him.  But I did read several media reports which indicated he didn't have friends, rented an apartment in an area away from the other officers, etc.

    It's just me, but the whole lot is strange :) (none / 0) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 04:20:32 PM EST
    We are good friends with two people, one is a psychiatrist like Hasan and one is a research psychologist. One is active duty and one is a DOD civilian, big geeks...great but it throws my mind in a tailspin sometimes talking to them because they are both Conservatives.

    Fact based on one hand, willing to let facts not exist on the other at times, the whole lot of Conservative Geeks in the military is strange to me.  And they are hard to come by too, not an easy combo to find in a person.

    They seem like family to me, but then they don't sometimes because they are a bit short on empathy.  I think it is a lonely position within the whole more Conservative structure.

    And a lot of their peers in the mental healthcare field think they suck as people too sometimes.  The research psychologist was shocked recently when he was in Europe at a conference and a European woman dressed him down in public when she found out who he worked for.  And the conflicts in that field surrounding the Iraq War and working with the Bush administration have been big ones.