Press Release

50 Percent Increase in Domestic Islamist Extremism Arrests and Plots in 2019, According to New ADL Data

Related Content

New York, May 18, 2020 … There was a 50 percent increase in arrests and plots linked to domestic Islamist extremism in 2019, according to data released today by ADL’s (Anti-Defamation League) Center on Extremism. There were a total of 30 arrests linked to domestic Islamist extremism, nine of which were for terror plots. Of the nine individuals arrested for plotting attacks, seven (78 percent) were U.S. citizens.

While there were no attacks or murders linked to domestic Islamist extremism last year, the findings indicate that Islamist extremism still poses a significant threat to the United States.

“Make no mistake: the threat of Islamist extremist activity in the United States is serious and cannot be ignored,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “In 2019 alone we saw nine individuals arrested for planning attacks on U.S. soil and a total of 30 arrests linked to domestic Islamist extremism.  We are deeply grateful for the efforts of federal and local law enforcement to investigate and disrupt these potentially dangerous attacks.”

In addition to the nine individuals arrested for plotting attacks, 21 others were arrested for engaging in domestic criminal activity motivated by Islamist extremism. Of those 21 individuals, a large majority faced charges for attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Approximately 70 percent of domestic Islamist extremist criminal activity in 2019 was inspired by ISIS, which has reportedly lost all of its territory in Iraq and Syria.

“ISIS’s ability to continue inspiring a large percentage of violent activity even after being effectively disbanded demonstrates the lasting influence of its violent ideology and propaganda on Islamist extremist activity in the United States,” said Oren Segal, Vice President for ADL’s Center on Extremism. “As long as the ideology persists and spreads online, extremists will continue to be inspired by violent rhetoric and instruction.”

While no physical attacks by domestic Islamist extremists materialized in 2019, a Saudi Arabian national attacked the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, in December, killing three people and injuring eight others. Federal authorities announced on Monday that they had uncovered evidence that the shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, was encouraged by al-Qaeda to carry out the attack.

For an in depth and continuously updated list of domestic Islamist extremist terror plots and attacks, see ADL’s H.E.A.T map.