ADL: Limiting Scope of Countering Violent Extremism Programs Places Nation at Risk

New York, NY, February 2, 2017...The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern over reports that the Trump Administration is considering limiting government “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) programs to focus only on stemming Islamic extremism. ADL voiced concern that such a move would turn efforts away from fighting right-wing extremism and other purveyors of hate across the ideological spectrum at a time when those groups are experiencing rising membership and expanding influence.

“At a time when right-wing extremists are on the rise, the government should keep its eye on the ball and focus on all types of extremism whether from terrorists motivated by extreme interpretations of Islam or white supremacists,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We urge President Trump to reconsider the idea of limiting CVE programs just to Islamic extremists.”

Research from ADL’s Center on Extremism has found that from 2007 to 2016, a range of domestic extremists of all kinds were responsible for the deaths of at least 372 people in the United States. Seventy-four percent of these murders came at the hands of right-wing extremists such as white supremacists, sovereign citizens and militia adherents.

“Let us be clear, the numbers clearly demonstrate violent extremism is not the sole domain of any one extremist movement or group and the American people do not have the luxury to ignore any such threat,” said Oren Segal, Director of ADL’s Center on Extremism. “Almost three-quarters of extremist related murders in the past decade came at the hands of right-wing extremists, such as white supremacists, sovereign citizens and militia adherents.”

“This is also a matter of law enforcement safety,” Mr. Segal said. “Of the 45 police officers killed by domestic extremists since 2001, 10 were killed by left wing extremists, 34 by right wing extremists and one by domestic Islamic extremists. Our law enforcement and homeland security officials must be equipped to protect Americans from all threats of violent extremism, no matter the source.”

While efforts to counter Islamic extremism remain very important and can help reduce the chances of horrific violent incidents like the shooting sprees in San Bernardino and Orlando, it is critical to not forget the fact that right-wing extremists also commit deadly shooting sprees, despicable hate crimes and other heinous acts targeting everyone from ethnic and religious minorities to the nation’s public officials and law enforcement officers.

ADL also expressed concern about the potential for singing out American Muslims for special scrutiny or suspicion. “Singling out the American Muslim community for special scrutiny or suspicion would be discriminatory, offensive, ineffective, and counterproductive,” said Mr. Greenblatt. “We need to build trust with the communities to reduce radicalism, not to foster mistrust. No federal policy change will prevent us from helping all Americans regardless of their faith to fight all forms of extremism.”

ADL’s Center on Extremism fights extremism, terrorism and all forms of hate in the real world and cyberspace with unmatched capabilities in research, analysis, investigation, and online monitoring. Recognized as the foremost authority on extremism, the Center provides resources, expertise and training which enables law enforcement, public officials, community leaders and internet and technology companies to identify and counter emerging threats.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.