Study: Homegrown terrorism down for second year in a row

A new study released by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security documents that concerns of counterterrorism officials about a potential wave of homegrown violent extremism have not materialized over the past two years. The study, “Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11,” reports that 20 Muslim-Americans committed or were arrested for terrorist crimes in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and 49 in 2009.

Since 9/11, 193 Muslim-Americans have been arrested or convicted of violent terrorism offenses, making 2011 about an average year for such offenses.

“Muslim-American terrorism continued to be a miniscule threat to public safety last year. None of America’s 14,000 murders in 2011 were due to Islamic extremism,” said Charles Kurzman, author of the study and professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC. “The challenge is for Americans to be vigilant about potential violence while keeping these threats in perspective.”

“Those who predicted an inevitable, rapid increase of homegrown violent extremism among Muslim-Americans were wrong,” said David Schanzer, director of the center and professor of public policy at Duke. “While homegrown radicalization is still a problem, the offenders from 2011 were less skilled and less connected with international terrorist organizations than the offenders in the prior two years. Hopefully, the seriousness of this threat will continue to decline in the future.”

The study also reported that 462 Muslim-Americans have been arrested for nonviolent support of terrorism since 9/11. The number of offenders has declined dramatically since 9/11, with 343 offenders in the first five years after 9/11 and 119 since then. Eight Muslim-Americans were charged with nonviolent support for terrorism in 2011, down from 27 in 2010.

The amount of funds at issue in these cases also declined over time. The four cases in 2011 all involved less than $100,000. Thirteen of 23 cases since 2008 also involved less than $100,000. Before 2008, 24 out of 34 of the cases involved more than $100,000, and 11 cases involved more than $1 million.