On Wednesday, Mother Jones ran an article making a shocking claim: more Americans have been killed by conservative terrorists than by Islamic terrorists since September 11, 2001. “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,” the article explained. “Between September 11, 2001, and the end of 2012, there were no successful bomb plots by jihadist terrorists in the United States …. [R]ight-wing extremists killed 29 people during those 11 years.”
But is it true?
The Mother Jones piece is based on a study by the New America Foundation and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. But that study routinely labels non-right-wing murderers right-wingers, and labels basic crimes involving murder “terrorist attacks.
Here is their complete list of “rightwing terrorist attacks,” with number of killed in parentheses:
- Christopher and Wade Lay (1): In May 2004, Christopher and Wade Lay shot and murdered a security guard during a bank robbery. The son-and-father criminal team said they wanted to steal the money to buy arms to fight the government thanks to federal action at Waco in 1993 and Ruby Ridge in 1992. This is conspiratorial nonsense, not right-wing extremism. It is also murder, not terrorism, in the technical definition – it was not violence aimed at civilians to achieve a political purpose.
- Jim David Adkisson (2): Adkisson shot up a church in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2008 after he was unable to get a job, opening fire on children performing a musical. In a four-page letter outside the church, Adkisson “repeatedly included disgust for what he perceived to be the liberals in our country,” according to local authorities. He had also recently lost his public benefits, and his wife was a former member of the church. Local authorities stated, “That might have been a trigger.” The motivation is at best split politically.
- Keith Luke (2): A white supremacist broke into an apartment, raped a woman, and shot two more people in 2009. He planned to attack a Jewish synagogue. His motive: killing “nonwhite people.” That is not right-wing. That is white supremacist. But the left always lumps in neo-Nazi types with the right, despite the fact that the Nazi movement was left-wing in orientation.
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