Mother Jones has a story that details all of the terrorist violence in the United States since 9/11 (terrorism being defined as violence committed to make a political, religious or ideological statement). The article is based largely on this report from the New America Foundation (I spent a weekend at a conference a couple years ago with Steve Clemons of the NAF; very, very smart guy and a virtual encyclopedia when it comes to foreign policy).
While we’ve seen all manner of terrorist bomb plots since September 11—the Times Square bomber, the underwear bomber, even the guys who fantasized about destroying the Sears Tower—all have been thwarted by the FBI, the perpetrators’ own bumbling, or both. If one or both of the suspects in last week’s attack, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were motivated by radical Islamic beliefs, then they will have the dubious distinction of being the first jihadists to have set off a bomb on American soil since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
While America has been fixated on the threat of Islamic terrorism for more than a decade, all but a few domestic terror plots have failed. Between September 11, 2001, and the end of 2012, there were no successful bomb plots by jihadist terrorists in the United States. Jihadists killed 17 people in the United States in four separate incidents during this time, according to data collected by journalist Peter Bergen and the New America Foundation. All four of these incidents involved guns, including Nidal Hassan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, which killed 13 people. In contrast, right-wing extremists killed 29 people during those 11 years…
The weapons of mass destruction charges filed against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may sound like a big deal. However, the federal WMD statute is sufficiently broad that it has been used against at least 25 defendants since 9/11, covering all kinds of destructive devices, from grenades and car bombs to theunderwear bomb and the planes hijacked on 9/11. There have been no Islamist plots involving what we commonly know as WMD—biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. However, according to the New America Foundation data, the only terror suspects who have recently obtained biological or chemical weapons such as anthrax and cyanide were right-wing extremists.
Neither Islamic terrorism or right-wing domestic terrorism should be taken lightly at all. But we pay far more attention to the former than we do the latter. And the right in this country continues to argue that terrorism is almost exclusively Islamic. But this data matters.
There was also one incident of left-wing domestic terrorism since 9/11, the attack on the Family Research Council headquarters by Floyd Lee Corkins. He has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.