Terrorism is not limited to Islam

Matthew Bailey

Imagine that there was a terrorist organization operating within the United States that had killed several thousand Americans, had over one hundred loosely-organized chapters, and was continuing to plan attacks. There’s actually no need to imagine because it is a perfect description of the Ku Klux Klan, which still operates to this day. Many Americans would have immediately thought of Muslim terrorists. This is problematic because we do have political, racial and anti-government terrorists in the United States who do not get as much attention because they are not Muslim.

During 2014, there were several attacks in America by politically-motivated terrorists. A white supremacist attacked a Jewish retirement community, killing three, and another attack by a husband and wife resulted in two police officers being killed while eating lunch. In Austin, Texas, a man fired over 100 rounds at a police station, federal courthouse, bank and Mexican consulate. Before being killed by the police, he attempted to set the consulate on fire. The government also arrested three Georgia men who attempted to buy thermite-mix charges and pipe bombs built to maximize fragmentation. Their goal was to attack government buildings and officers, which could have resulted in the deaths of many.

Terrorist attacks by individuals who have sovereign citizen beliefs resulted in many deaths as well. Typically, sovereign citizens do not believe that government officials like sheriffs have any power, believe taxes are illegitimate and attempt “paper terrorism” by filing nonsensical legal claims against government officials for things like parking tickets. One sovereign citizen set his house on fire to set a trap for first responders, resulting in a shootout with police that caused the death of a deputy. He is only one of several officers that have been killed by sovereign citizens, and those attacks led The University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism to find that law enforcement perceived them to be a greater threat than Islamic extremists.

Acknowledging the reality of American-grown terrorism does not take anything away from the impact that Wahhabism and Qutbism sects, Boko Haram, Daesh (ISIS) or the Shi’a Houthi movement have on the Middle East and the world in general. Anti-government extremists as well as racist American terrorists are much more likely to be a direct threat to your life and affect the functioning of the government around you. It is important that we understand this and label them as the terrorists they are. If we fail to do this then we could have the misfortune of overlooking them and allowing 
something horrible to happen.

Matthew Bailey is a third-year law student. His 
column runs biweekly.