Press Release

2015 Was Deadliest Year for Domestic Extremist Violence in Past 20 Years, ADL Says

Not Since Oklahoma City Bombing Have So Many Americans Been Killed by Homegrown Terror

New York, NY, January 5, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today released a new report detailing the toll of human lives taken this past year by extremists in the United States. 

Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2015 reports that at least 52 people were killed by homegrown extremists in the U.S. in the past 12 months, representing more than the two previous years (23 in 2014 and 24 in 2013) combined.

The report provides several key findings, including:

  • The killers came from four extremist movements—white supremacists, domestic Islamic extremists, right-wing anti-government extremists, and anti-abortion extremists—illustrating the multiple threats posed by radical movements within America’s borders.
  • White supremacists were responsible for the highest number of deaths (20), as they usually are, but in a disturbing development, domestic Islamic extremists were responsible for virtually the same number of murders (19).
  • The killings occurred in 17 separate incidents, with nine of the incidents involving multiple victims. Moreover, the year 2015 saw three of the deadliest attacks by domestic extremists in the U.S. in the past 50 years: the shooting sprees of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik in San Bernardino, Dylan Storm Roof in Charleston, and Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez in Chattanooga.
  • The extremist weapon of choice was firearms, which were used to kill 48 of the 52 victims. All of the multiple murder incidents involved the use of one or more firearms, illustrating the true danger of combining extreme ideologies with easily accessible deadly weapons.

“Not since 1995, the year of the Oklahoma City bombing, have domestic extremists committed more deadly violence than in this past year,” said Mark Pitcavage, ADL Senior Research Fellow. “These tragic incidents clearly show us that we need to combat all forms of extremism and respond to the specific tactics they use. America is in the midst of a perfect storm created by surges in multiple extremist movements at the same time.”

ADL noted that the combined threats of right-wing and domestic Islamic extremism are responsible for all of the extremist-related killings in 2015.

“The recent rise of new terrorist groups overseas has changed the face of domestic terror and extremism right here at home,” said Oren Segal, Director of ADL’s Center on Extremism. “The sophisticated recruiting tactics to gain followers from across the globe by ISIS have influenced would-be adherents to commit violent acts in the places where they live, including in our own neighborhoods.”

In 2015, ADL trained over 13,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers on the various threats posed by domestic extremists.