President Donald Trump has repeatedly described “radical Islamic terrorism” as the most significant threat to the homeland. A new database compiled by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute examines that claim by looking back over a nine-year period, from 2008 through 2016. The findings are dramatic: Far-right plots and attacks outnumber Islamist incidents by almost 2 to 1.
There are 201 incidents in the database, sorted broadly as Islamist, right wing (including white supremacists, militias and members of the so-called Patriot and sovereign citizens movements), and left wing (including animal right militants, environmentalists, anarchists and Black Lives Matter sympathizers). Most of the Islamist incidents are thwarted plots, indicating a significant investment of law enforcement resources. Most of the others are successful acts in which attackers damaged property or inflicted human casualties.
The data also reveals a serious imbalance in the way the United States confronts terrorism institutionally, from the resources federal officials devote to gathering intelligence to the investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators and their associates.