Terrorism is surging in the US, fueled by right-wing ideologies

White nationalists in Charlottesville.
White nationalists in Charlottesville.
Image: Reuters/Stephanie Keith
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Terrorism is in retreat around the world. Attacks fell from about 17,000 in 2014 to about 11,000 in 2017, and dropped almost 40% in the Middle East. Yet not in the US.

The country is seeing a surge in terrorism. There were only six attacks in the US a decade ago, but 65 in 2017. The number of fatalities is also increasing.

Most attacks in 2017 were thought to be motivated by right-leaning ideologies, a Quartz analysis of data from the Global Terrorism Database shows. Out of 65 incidents, 37 were tied to racist, anti-Muslim, homophobic, anti-Semitic, fascist, anti-government, or xenophobic motivations.

That list includes the case in which neo-Nazi extremist James Fields is accused of driving into a crowd of counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, killing one person. It also includes attacks on a gay bar in Puerto Rico, mosques in Washington, Texas, and Florida, and a vehicle decorated with Jewish iconography in New York.

Meanwhile, 11 attacks were inspired by left-leaning ideologies. And seven were linked to Islamic extremists, including the vehicle-ramming Sayfullo Saipov was arrested for in New York that left eight people dead.

The Global Terrorism Database, published yearly by the University of Maryland, counts cases where violence is used by non-state actors to achieve political, economic, religious, or social goals through fear and coercion. It includes ideologically motivated attacks like the Charleston church shooting, but not ones such as the Aurora movie theater massacre.

The database classifies cases according to attackers’ affiliations (like “Ku Klux Klan”) or, when it can’t find a group, by its author’s identity (“white extremist” or “jihadi-inspired,” for example). Quartz analyzed each attack and classified them into right-leaning, left-leaning, or linked to Islamic extremists.