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Decades after 9/11, the American right is behind a terrorism surge

Reuters/Peter Morgan
A flag at the base of the destroyed World Trade Center, on Sept. 11, 2001.
By Luiz Romero
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Donald Trump marked the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks today in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, near the crash site of the downed United Airlines Flight 93.

In a speech, the US president remembered the passengers who fought to regain control of the plane and to divert it from its target in Washington, DC. “America’s future is not written by our enemies,” Trump said. “America’s future is written by our heroes.”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijackers from terror group Al Qaeda caused the crashes of four commercial planes: In addition to Flight 93, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. A fourth plane, American Airlines Flight 77, hit the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A total of 2,977 people were killed.

Today, terrorism is largely in retreat around the world. However, it is rising in the US, according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, which compiles and releases annual statistics on terrorism.

The US has seen a recent surge in terror-related violence

Globally, terror attacks fell from about 17,000 in 2014 to about 11,000 in 2017. They dropped almost 40% in the Middle East.

But the US has seen a recent surge in terror-related violence over the past 10 years, with 65 attacks in the US last year, up from six in 2006.

A Quartz analysis of the database shows that almost two-thirds of terror attacks in the US last year were tied to racist, anti-Muslim, homophobic, anti-Semitic, fascist, anti-government, or xenophobic motivations.

The remaining attacks were driven by left-wing ideologies (like pro-LGBT, environmentalism, and anti-Republican) and Islamic extremism. Although Trump mentioned “radical Islamic terrorism” in his speech today, only seven terror attacks in 2017 were linked to Islam.

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