On 20th Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing, ADL Says Violence by Right-Wing Extremists Still a Significant Threat

New York, NY, April 7, 2015 … Twenty years since the Oklahoma City bombing, anti-government extremists and white supremacists who share an ideology and worldview similar to that of Timothy McVeigh still pose a threat to society, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors the activities of extreme right-wing groups and movements in the United States.

“People don’t necessary realize that the growth of anti-government extremists was just as dramatic in 2009 and 2010 as it was in 1994 and 1995,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The growth of the sovereign citizen movement alone was the highest extremist-related concern among law enforcement in 2014. White supremacists have also engaged in many shocking acts of violence.

“While after 9/11 America appropriately focused security and intelligence on the danger of Islamic extremism, which has largely protected us from that threat, it is important to recognize the continuing harm caused by right-wing extremists,” Mr. Foxman added. “There are still a disturbing number of violent acts and plots stemming from extreme right-wing movements that have targeted Jews and other minorities, government officials and buildings, and law enforcement officers.”

In an effort to shed new light on these activities and to see how right-wing extremist movements have changed over time, in advance of the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19 ADL has pulled together resources on the bombing on a web page devoted to the Oklahoma City attack and its continuing significance today.

ADL’s online resources include a chronology of right-wing terrorist plots and attacks from 1995 through the present, a history of the bombing, information about the past and present significance of the attack, and a report comparing the state of right-wing extremism in 2015 to its state 20 years ago – including how the growth of the Internet has affected the movement.

Right-wing extremists have been responsible for the majority of extremist-related murders in the U.S. in recent years, as well as the majority of shootouts between extremists and police, according to Dr. Mark Pitcavage, ADL Director of Investigative Research.

Dr. Pitcavage pointed to the brutal 2014 assassination of two Las Vegas, Nevada, police officers by anti-government extremists and the 2015 shooting attacks by a white supremacist on Jewish institutional buildings in Overland Park, Kansas, as recent examples of high-profile acts of violence motivated by bigotry or hatred of the government.

“In the year 2015, the U.S. is still in the midst of a right-wing extremist surge,” said Dr. Pitcavage. “The 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing is an opportunity to acknowledge the ongoing threat of right-wing extremism, a singularly pernicious form of homegrown violent extremism that not only took so many lives in April 1995, but has taken hundreds of lives in the years since then.”

McVeigh, the primary perpetrator of the attack, who had both anti-government and white supremacist views, is not viewed as a “hero” among most right-wing extremists. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, anti-government extremists rushed to disassociate themselves from McVeigh’s actions, and today most see him as a patsy of the government or as a “government plant.”

The most widely accepted conspiracy theory about the bombing among domestic far-right extremists is that the U.S. government itself was somehow responsible for the bombing.

“The Oklahoma City bombing still stands as a potent reminder that the U.S. faces threats both from abroad and from its own extremist fringes,” Mr. Foxman said. “We must have the wisdom to respond effectively to violence from all sources of extremism. That would be the most positive way to pay homage to those who so tragically lost their lives on April 19, 1995.”

In October 1994, just months before the bombing, ADL released Armed & Dangerous: Militias Take Aim at the Federal Government, a comprehensive – and, as it turned out, sadly prophetic – report warning of the growing threat posed by anti-government militia groups and like-minded individuals.