New York, NY, February 16, 2017 … Extremism and terrorism contributed to the deaths of at least 69 people in the United States in 2016, a slight increase from the 65 deaths attributed to violent extremism in 2015, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League. That figure establishes 2016 as the second deadliest year for domestic extremist related deaths in the U.S. since 1970, the earliest year for which ADL maintains such data.
The report, “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2016,” provides an annual snapshot of extremist violence from ADL’s Center on Extremism. The fatalities reported last year include 49 people killed in the June 2016 shooting spree at the Pulse nightclub by terrorist Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to ISIS and referred to the Boston Marathon bombers during the attack. That attack alone was the deadliest domestic terrorist incident since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and overshadowed all other extremist acts.
“In a country as large as the United States, no one extremist group or movement has a monopoly on violence,” said Oren Segal, Director of ADL’s Center on Extremism. “It is clear from the trends that we cannot ignore one threat of extremism over another. Extremists come in many forms and extremist violence, whether inspired by ISIS or carried out in the name of white supremacy, is still very much a serious threat.”
Notwithstanding the horrific Pulse attack, 2016 might have been considered a “mild” year for extremist-related deaths. There were only 11 lethal incidents in the U.S. in 2016 that can be connected to extremism, compared to 29 incidents in 2015, according to ADL’s research. Pulse was the only deadly incident connected to Islamic extremism in 2016.
“The growth in the number of extremist-related deaths is troubling and can be attributed largely to the ongoing serious dangers posed by domestic Islamic extremists and right-wing extremists alike, as well as an apparent new threat emerging from a resurgence of black nationalist violence,” added Mark Pitcavage, Senior Research Fellow in ADL’s Center on Extremism.
ADL’s research points to several significant trends:
- 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.
- For the first time in more than 30 years, right-wing extremists were not responsible for the most extremist-related killings in the U.S. White supremacists and anti-government extremists committed a comparatively low number of murders in 2016, but at the same time were responsible for a high amount of non-violent activity, much of it tied to the presidential election.
- Very troubling were two murder sprees targeting police officers that were conducted by people with connections to black nationalism. These attacks, in Dallas and Baton Rouge, which killed five and three people respectively, deliberately targeted police officers for murder as acts of retaliation for earlier controversial police shootings.
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.