Not All Muslims are Terrorists, But All Terrorists are Not Muslim Either

It’s a common refrain in the media, that the threat of terrorism comes from Islamic extremism.

Not true, according to a new study revealed by researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans, which suggests that only 6% of terrorist attacks on the U.S. are from Muslims.

CNN describes the inclusion criteria used for the study:

To be included on the list, an offender had to have been wanted, arrested, convicted or killed in connection with terrorism-related activities since 9/11 — and have lived in the United States, regardless of immigration status, for more than a year prior to arrest.

The study also notes that strong partnerships and support of Muslim institutions are necessary to prevent the radicalization of Muslims.  To date, we’ve often have initiatives that accomplish the opposite.  Muslim terrorists also had very little to do with Islam,

This research confirmed what has been observed in other studies of Muslim terrorists: most of those who engage in religiously inspired terrorism have little formal training in Islam and, in fact, are poorly educated about Islam. Muslim- Americans with a strong, traditional religious training are far less likely to radicalize than those whose knowledge of Islam is incomplete.

The implications of the findings also suggest there is disproportionate attention by the media and security officials on threats that are comparatively negligible, which may actually accentuate this specific risk over time.

Placed in context with data over the past 30 years, we get a very different picture (graph sent to us by a reader):

Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database

Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database

4 Comments on "Not All Muslims are Terrorists, But All Terrorists are Not Muslim Either"

  1. Does the chart come from the study because it is really strange, which would make me question the whole study if it did.

    It mixes politics, religion and ethnicity which makes me wonder what they are measuring and how groups/individuals get slotted into a category. Seems like pretty sloppy Social Science to me. I never would have got away with that in university.

    What if your a left wing Latino group, which category are you in. And why are Communists separated from extreme left wing groups.

    AND why are there no right wing terrorists or Christian terrorists.

    I’d hate to see people like Beck and Limbaugh use that chart to simply switch from an anti-Muslim crusade to an anti-Latino crusade.

    If the chart does not come from the study it is misleading to simp,ly attach it to the bottom of the post.

    Law is Cool: The image was sent to us by a reader, and was drawn from the statistics linked from the image. The Latino groups seem to reflect primarily Cuban and Puerto Rican groups, which is probably why they are separated out. Labeling and grouping is admittedly an arbitrary process. The right-wing groups are presumably in the “Other” category.

    The FBI report elaborates,

    Eight of the 14 recorded terrorism preventions [between 2002 and 2005, as opposed to data from 1980 to 2005] stemmed from right-wing extremism, and included disruptions to plotting by individuals involved with the militia, white supremacist, constitutionalist and tax protestor, and anti-abortion movements. The remaining preventions included disruptions to plotting by an anarchist in Bellingham, Washington, who sought to bomb a U.S. Coast Guard station; a plot to attack an Islamic center in Pinellis Park, Florida; and a plot by prison-originated, Muslim convert group to attack U.S. military, Jewish, and Israeli targets in the greater Los Angeles area. In addition, three preventions involved individuals who sought to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Qa’ida, for attacks within the United States.

    The breakdown may also reflect the shifting nature of various threats,

    During the first 75 years of its history the FBI encountered a predominantly domestic terrorist threat that underlay larger criminal trends. Between the World Wars, this threat came primarily from right-wing extremists, then shifted to left-wing, socialist-oriented groups beginning in the 1950s and continuing into the 1980s. In the early 1980s, international terrorism–sponsored primarily by states or organizations–began to impact US interests overseas and led to legislation that extended the FBI’s responsibilities to cover terrorist threats originating outside the United States and its territories. The 1990s saw a new era of domestic and international terrorism in which terrorists sought to inflict massive and indiscriminate casualties upon civilian populations. This threat grew as terrorists began to seek out unconventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The 1990s also saw the rise of terrorism pursued by loosely-affiliated extremists, with examples ranging from terrorists involved with domestic special interest causes to militants engaged in international jihad. These terrorism trends combined into the September 11, 2001, attack that has set in motion an international effort to counter the global terrorist threat and elevated counterterrorism to the FBI’s preeminent mission.

    Any specific group unusually targeted for a crusade or preeminent mission is not a good idea, and probably doesn’t reflect an accurate risk assessment. This recent study introduces an additional nuance into the analysis.

  2. I agree that group-based stratification is not a good idea.
    But even behaviour-based risk assessment easily goes faulty when those involved are poorly informed, which is almost always the case.

    Look at the Jewish teen who raised concerns recently just by putting on tefillin on U.S. Airways Express Flight 3079 from LaGuardia to Louisville, forcing it to land in Philadelphia, where he was warmly greeted by police, federal agents, and bomb-sniffing dogs.

    (did he say “olfactory“?)

    It looks something like this:

    Watch out now!

  3. Julissa Bugayong | March 31, 2011 at 10:59 am |

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  4. I don’t think any religion promotes killing without fair reasons. Look at the koran which people often misquote because of their racisim: “[002:190] Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.

    [002:191] And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

    [002:192] But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
    4 years ago

    [002:193] And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.”

    As you can see you can’t read one verse or line of anything and make a judgement. In the koran there is a condition on which muslims are allowed to fight and that is if they are attacked. Muslims cannot start fights themselves. You can’t trust an extremist when he says he is doing something for god. He is simply poorly educated and would you trust someone trying to kill you? Islam promotes peace not hate like so many people say it does out of racism.

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