According to recent FBI data, white supremacists in the US have committed far more killings than members of groups like Al Qaeda and Daesh.
The latest data from the FBI has revealed that most detentions in the US originated from non-terrorism crimes in 2018, despite a widespread perception that the country faced an existential threat from armed groups such as Al Qaeda and Daesh.
The same data also showed that local and federal law enforcement agencies have arrested more suspects related to far-right movements, or what the FBI has described as ‘domestic terrorism’, than those who allegedly have connections to internationally known terror groups.
‘Domestic terrorism’ is a distinctive phrase to define the act of perpetrators who have been inspired by racist causes to commit violence.
This is the first time the FBI has identified far-right violence as a bigger threat to the country's security than any foreign terror group.
According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, 71 percent of killings related to extremism have been committed by white supremacists between 2008 and 2017, while extremists related to groups like Al Qaeda, are responsible for 26 percent of fatal violence.
“White supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed far more people since September 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist,” wrote Janet Reitman, the author of Inside Scientology, The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion, who is also working on a book concerning the rise of the far right in post-9/11 America.
In 2017, there were 65 extremism-related incidents, which killed 95 people, and only seven attacks had been committed by Muslim-origin extremists, equaling slightly more than 10 percent of the attacks in the US, while other right-wing and left-wing violence made up more than 80 percent of the attacks.
However, it seems US law enforcement has recently turned its attention to focus on the violence caused by far-right movements.
“It’s violence that we key in on,” an anonymous senior FBI official told the Washington Post, which disclosed the FBI data.
“And sometimes, it’s the violence that motivates someone more than any particular ideology,” the official said.
During a Senate testimony in September 2017, Christopher A Wray, the FBI Director, confirmed that the federal law enforcement agency had been dealing with at least 1,000 investigations concerning white supremacists and other members of local extremist groups, who were preparing to launch attacks in the US.
“We’re very busy,” Wray told leading lawmakers in the the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, at the US Congress.
In 2017, according to the FBI data disclosed to the Washington Post, 30 people accused of working for Daesh and Al Qaeda were charged with terrorism.
In the same year, the FBI arrested at least 150 suspects related to ‘domestic terrorism’ charges, according to the data.
In 2018, the number of defendants facing terrorism charges related to Muslim-origin groups dropped to nine, according to the FBI.
On the other hand, in the same year, 120 ‘domestic terrorism’ suspects had been arrested, the data revealed.
Since Donald Trump became the US president, violent clashes have occurred between pro- and anti-Trump activists.
In July 2017, neo-Nazi groups clashed with leftist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the status of statues that honour the US civil war heroes of the southern states. The confrontation led to the death of one leftist protester.
“All the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who wanted to make all America white again felt empowered [with Trump’s victory],” Vamik D. Volkan, a renowned Turkish-American psychiatrist, told TRT World during an extensive interview last April.
The Charlottesville incident has also made experts fear about its future implications.
“The next wave of terrorism is here, and it’s one where white ultra-nationalists carry out acts of premeditated violence against Muslims,” wrote CJ Werleman, an analyst and writer on conflict and terrorism.
“In the past year alone, a ‘Trump loving conservative’ slaughtered six Canadian Muslims at a mosque in Quebec City; white nationalists bombed a mosque in Minnesota while 20 worshippers were inside; and in London a man ‘brainwashed’ on far-right propaganda drove his van into Finsbury Park mosque with the intention to ‘kill more Muslims’,” Werleman observed.