San Bernardino Attack Underscores Growing Concern Over Increase in Extremist Related Mass Shootings, ADL Says

New York, NY, December 4, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed growing concern over the increase in extremist-related mass shootings in 2015.

While authorities continue to investigate a motive for the attack, there are indications that it is a rare com­bi­na­tion of extremist-inspired work­place vio­lence. According to authorities, the shooters may have been in touch with international terrorists on social media and that the female shooter pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS on Facebook on the same day of the attack.

According to ADL’s Center on Extremism, the shooting appears to be the deadliest extremist-related mass shooting in the past 45 years, and second deadliest domestic extremist incident after the Oklahoma City bombing (along with the June AME Church shooting by Dylan Roof in Charleston that killed 9 and the July shooting by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez at two military installations in Chattanooga that killed five). In the past year, we have seen three of the top six deadliest extremist-related shootings. It also appears to be the third major shooting in 2015 linked to Islamic extremism.

“The horrific tragedy in San Bernardino appears to confirm our fears over how domestic Islamic extremists increasingly choose to use firearms as the means with which to deliver their violence rather than overambitious conspiracies and plots that are more easily detected and prevented by law enforcement,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We are shocked and horrified by this unspeakable tragedy and commend the bravery and courage of law enforcement. At the same time, we are also concerned about the potential increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the wake of this attack, as we saw after Paris. Stigmatizing an entire community will not make our communities any safer.”

Prior to the San Bernardino shooting, ADL’s research found that 69 U.S. residents have been linked to Islamic extremist plots and other activity in 2015, representing more than double the total of each of the past two years. Seventy-eight of the 95 U.S. residents linked to terrorist activity motivated by Islamic extremist ideologies since 2014 have supported ISIS – representing about 82% of the total number.

“The United States is not immune from the global reach of Islamic extremism,” said Oren Segal, Director of ADL’s Center on Extremism. “San Bernardino not only underscores the threat posed by extremists of all stripes in the U.S., but the impact foreign terrorist groups have on a generation of homegrown extremists.”

Since 1967, ADL has favored expanded federal and state regulation of the sale and transfer of firearms and other dangerous weapons. ADL firmly believes that one way to limit the power of extremists and others who pose a violent threat to society is to enact tough, effective gun control legislation.

ADL also provides a parent/family discussion guide on talking about gun violence and mass shootings, which includes background information, discussion questions, ideas for taking action and additional resources.


The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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