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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Domestic Terrorism

 From CSIS:

To better understand the trends in U.S. domestic terrorism, CSIS compiled a data set of 1,040 terrorist attacks and plots in the United States between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 2021. The 2021 data are new, and they yield several main findings.

First, there was a significant increase in the number and percentage of domestic terrorist incidents at demonstrations in cities in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, only 2 percent of all U.S. terrorist attacks and plots occurred at demonstrations, but this portion rose to 47 percent in 2020 and 53 percent in 2021. The result is that some metropolitan areas of the United States—such as Portland, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.—are becoming focal points of domestic terrorism, where extremists from opposing sides square off against each other and against law enforcement agencies. This development has created a “security dilemma” in metropolitan areas, where attempts by one side to improve its own security threatens the security of others, leading to further escalation.

Second, U.S. law enforcement agencies have increasingly become a target of domestic terrorists from all sides of the political spectrum. The government, military, and especially law enforcement were the primary targets of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in 2021, composing 43 percent of all attacks. They were most likely to be targeted regardless of perpetrator ideology: they were selected in 48 percent of violent far-left events, 37 percent of violent far-right events, and all Salafi-jihadist events in 2021. This development indicates that U.S. security agencies—particularly law enforcement—are increasingly at risk from domestic terrorism.

Third, there was an increase in the percentage of attacks and plots by anarchists, anti-fascists, and other likeminded extremists in 2021. While white supremacists, anti-government militias, and likeminded extremists conducted the most attacks and plots in 2021 (49 percent), the percentage of attacks and plots by anarchists, anti-fascists, and likeminded extremists grew from 23 percent in 2020 to 40 percent in 2021. This rise has occurred alongside an increase in violence at demonstrations. However, although there was a historically high level of both far-right and far-left terrorist attacks in 2021, violent far-right incidents were significantly more likely to be lethal, both in terms of weapon choice and number of resulting fatalities.