Experts warn of increased risk of US terror attacks by rightwing ‘lone wolf’ actors - The Guardian

The number of attacks by adherents to rightwing ideology has soared since 2016, as Republican lies about election interference, and escalating rhetoric from the right about minority groups, have served to “provide mechanisms” for individuals to become radicalized, an analyst said.

As the threat of domestic rightwing terrorism rises, researchers say individuals, rather than organized groups, are now far more likely to commit what analysts call “crimes inspired by extremist ideology”.

There have been a series of such attacks in recent years. In May 2022 a white supremacist killed 10 Black people at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The attacker said he had chosen the location because it was in a predominantly Black neighborhood. He was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year.

A self-described white nationalist killed 23 people and injured 22 in a shooting in El Paso, on the border of Mexico and the US, in 2019, in an anti-immigration attack targeting Hispanic people.

In recent years a white supremacist killed nine people at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, while just this week a man was arrested after he crashed a rented truck into bollards near the White House. The man subsequently praised Adolf Hitler to investigators and said he intended to “kill the president”, according to charging documents.

​Michael Jensen, senior researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (Start) at the University of Maryland, said 70% of individuals committing terrorist acts in the US are individuals, or part of “isolated cliques” – small groups of three to four people.

Jensen leads the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (Pirus) project, a database tracking how US extremists came to be radicalized.

According to the data, 90% of the cases of US terrorists are classed as domestic. Of the domestic extremists, 95% are far-right, Jensen said: white supremacists, Proud Boys, anti-immigrant groups and anti-government groups.

There has been a worrying increase in the number of attacks. Prior to 2016, Jensen and his team logged about 150 individuals a year who were “committing crimes inspired by extremist ideology”.

Since 2016, the number of people committing such crimes has jumped to about 300-350 cases a year, Jensen said – not including a huge spike in 2021 as a result of the January 6 insurrection.

In 2021 a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – the head of the US intelligence community – warned that racially motivated extremists posed the most lethal domestic terrorism threat. It echoed post-January 6 warnings from Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, that the threat from domestic violent extremism was “metastasizing” across the country.

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The Guardian

Events: 2019 El Paso Shooting 2022 Buffalo Shooting January 6th Riot 

Organizations: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (Start) Office of the Director of National Intelligence FBI 

People: Payton Gendron Patrick Wood Crusius Sai Kandula ​Michael Jensen ​Christopher Wray 

Tags: Terrorism Political Violence Racism White Nationalism Mass Shooting 

Type: Headlines