Homegrown Muslim-American terrorism down third straight year

February 4, 2013

The number of homegrown terrorism incidents by Muslim-Americans has dropped for the third consecutive year, a study released Friday by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security has found.

Fourteen Muslim-Americans committed or were charged with crimes in 2012, down from 21 in 2011, 26 in 2010 and 49 in 2009.

The full report, "Muslim-American Terrorism Declining Further," is available online at bit.ly/YlSRIc . The center is a consortium of Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and RTI International.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a total of 209 Muslim-Americans have been arrested or convicted of violent terrorism offenses, an average of about 20 per year. Last year was the first time since 2008 that the number of incidents dipped below that average.  

"Miniscule numbers of Muslim-Americans have engaged in terrorist activity over the past decade. It is reassuring to see that the wave of violence so many people feared has not come to pass," said Charles Kurzman, the study's author and a professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC. 

"The seriousness of the homegrown, al-Qaeda-inspired threat has continued to decline," said David Schanzer, director of the center and a professor at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. "Not only is the number of incidents dropping, but the more recent terrorists are less skilled and have fewer connections with international terrorist organizations than offenders in prior years." 

The study also reported that:

  • For the second year in a row, there were no fatalities or injuries from terrorism by Muslim-Americans. Since 9/11, such terrorism has claimed 33 lives in the United States out of more than 180,000 murders during that same period.
  • Of the 14 offenders in 2012, only one was accused of executing a violent attack (the bombing of a Social Security office in Casa Grande, Ariz.). The other perpetrators were arrested at an early stage of their terrorist plots.  
  • None of the 2012 perpetrators had attended a terrorist training camp overseas. Since 9/11, 34 individuals (16 percent of the total) attended camps overseas and returned to the United States.
  • As in prior years, the 14 offenders from 2012 do not match any ethnic or racial profile. Four were Arab-American, two were South Asian, two were white converts to Islam, two were East Asian converts and one each were Afghan, Uzbek, Kosovar and Latino converts.
  • Indictments of Muslim-Americans for financial and other nonviolent support for terrorism dropped significantly in 2012. Six Muslim-Americans were indicted on these grounds in 2012, bringing the total since 9/11 to 467. And for the first time since 9/11, there were no indictments for large-scale financial support for terrorism. All of the cases involved sums under $100,000.
  • Muslim terrorism in Europe has also fallen in recent years, according to data from Europol, the European law enforcement agency. The rate of convictions of Muslims in cases in Europe dropped from 10 per million Muslim residents in 2007 to 5 per million in 2011, according to the latest data available.

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