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Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2001-2021

Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism Since 9/11

Examine the data for yourself here.

Past reports

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2001-2020,” Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, January 14, 2021. Seven Muslim-Americans were arrested or killed during alleged involvement with violent extremism in 2020, the lowest total since 2008. This continues the decline since the peak of 90 cases in 2015. Islamic extremism played almost no role in the considerable unrest that the United States experienced in 2020. The total number of fatalities in the United States from Muslim-American violent extremism since 9/11 remained at 141. Over this same period, there have been more than 309,000 murders in the United States. More…

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2001-2019,” Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, January 21, 2020. Twenty-four Muslim-Americans were arrested for alleged involvement with violent extremism in 2019, higher than the previous year but lower than the peak years of 2014-2016. This year’s annual report also presents new data on the lengthening period between radicalization and attempts at violence, allaying concerns voiced by counterterrorism officials about a quickening pace of ‘flash’ to ‘bang.'” More…

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2001-2018,” Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, January 22, 2019. The wave of Muslim-Americans associating themselves with the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” appears to have dwindled, continuing a downward trend that was visible in the final year of the Obama administration. There were no incidents or arrests in 2018 involving Muslim extremists who entered the United States illegally. These findings contradict the alarms about terrorism sounded by the Trump administration. In a survey conducted for this report, terrorism experts attribute the decline in Muslim-American involvement with violent extremism to the loss of territory by the Islamic State, the reduction in online recruitment, and the already small scale of Muslim-American extremism. More…

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2017,” January 18, 2018. The number of Muslim-Americans associated with violent extremism continued a downward trend that was visible in the final year of the Obama administration. This trend defied expectations that President Donald Trump’s presidency would generate a distinctive pattern of violent extremism. The administration did not identify “support networks” for terrorism in the United States, as Trump had promised, and Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies did not trigger a backlash of increased violent extremism, as some Muslim extremists had predicted. More…

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2016,” January 26, 2017. The number of Muslim-Americans associated with violent extremism dropped 40 percent in 2016, as compared with the previous year, although this drop was overshadowed by the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016. Only 20 percent of these individuals had family backgrounds in one of the seven Muslim-majority countries reportedly designated for immigrant bans by the Trump administration. There have been no fatalities in the U.S. since 9/11 caused by extremists from these countries. More…

    In 2016, Americans were less likely to be killed by Muslim extremists (1 in six million) than for being Muslim (one in one million): 54 fatalities in a population of approximately 324 million vs. 4 fatalities (Khalid Jabara in Tulsa and Imam Maulama Akonjee, Thara Uddin, and Nazma Khanam in New York) in a population of approximately 3 million. Update of 2015 data; coverage by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, February 12, 2017.

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism, 2015,” February 2, 2016. Eighty-one Muslim-Americans were associated with violent extremist plots in 2015, the highest annual total since 9/11. A majority of the individuals identified in 2015 involved travel or attempted travel to join militant groups based in Syria, bringing the total number of Americans who have traveled to Syria since 2012 to 41. Of the Muslim-Americans associated with violent extremism in 2015, three quarters were arrested or identified in the first half of the year. Only one quarter of these plots occurred in the second half of the year, although this decline was overshadowed by the shooting at a social service agency in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015, that killed 14 people and injured 17. More…

Charles Kurzman, “Terrorism Cases Involving Muslim-Americans in 2014,” February 9, 2015. “Twenty-five Muslim-Americans were associated with violent terrorism in 2014, bringing the total since 9/11 to 250, or less than 20 per year. A large majority of the cases involved travel (5 individuals) or attempted travel (14 individuals) to join designated terrorist organizations in Syria or (in one case) Yemen. Only six of the 25 individuals plotted or engaged in violence in the United States in 2014 (Figure 2), matching the lowest total since 2008. (Three of these individuals are included provisionally, as the evidence is unclear at present whether their plots ought to be characterized as terrorism.) … In 2014, four terrorism-related incidents involving Muslim-Americans – two using firearms, one a knife, and one a hatchet — killed seven people in 2014, bringing the total number of fatalities in the United States from terrorism by Muslim-Americans since 9/11 to 50. Meanwhile, the United States suffered approximately 14,000 murders in 2014 and more than 200,000 murders since 9/11.” More…

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Terrorism in 2013,” February 5, 2014. Sixteen Muslim-Americans were indicted for or killed during violent terrorist plots in 2013, including the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, which claimed four lives, plus one of the suspects, and injured more than 200 people, including more than a dozen people who suffered amputations. Meanwhile, the United States suffered approximately 14,000 murders in 2013. Since 9/11, Muslim-American terrorism has claimed 37 lives in the United States, out of more than 190,000 murders during this period. The Boston Marathon bombing was one of 30 mass killings in 2013 with four or more fatalities, according to data compiled by USA Today. Mass killings in 2013 led to 137 fatalities, more than three times the victims killed by Muslim-American terrorism in the United States since 9/11. More…

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Terrorism: Declining Further,” February 1, 2013: “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.” More…

    Coverage by:
    Interview with Rev. Welton Gaddy,”State of Belief” radio program, February 9, 2013.
    Interview with Michael Shure, “The Young Turks,” Current TV, February 26, 2013.

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11,” February 8, 2012: “Twenty Muslim-Americans were indicted for violent terrorist plots in 2011, down from 26 the year before, bringing the total since 9/11 to 193, or just under 20 per year. This number is not negligible — small numbers of Muslim-Americans continue to radicalize each year and plot violence. However, the rate of radicalization is far less than many feared in the aftermath of 9/11.” More…

Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting,” February 2, 2011: “This report documents a downturn in the pace of Muslim-American terrorism — it remains to be seen whether this is accorded a similar level of attention, and whether the level of public concern will ratchet downward along with the number of terrorism suspects.” More…

    Review of the study by Congressman Peter King, March 9, 2011: “I’d say it’s a biased report.” More….

Initial reports

Charles Kurzman, David Schanzer, and Ebrahim Moosa, “Muslim American Terrorism Since 9/11: Why So Rare?The Muslim World, July 2011, pages 464–483: “Terrorist front organizations and their multicultural enablers claim that the threat of Islamic terrorism is exaggerated. Right-wing Islamophobes claim that the threat of Islamic terrorism is not being taken seriously enough. So which is it? In order to bring evidence to bear on this vexatious issue, we have attempted to gather information on every Muslim-American terrorism suspect and perpetrator since September 11, 2011.” More…

David Schanzer, Charles Kurzman, and Ebrahim Moosa, “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans,” Report for the National Institute of Justice, January 6, 2010.