Domestic Terrorism

May 14, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 18
Does hate-filled political rhetoric fuel extremism?
By Christina L. Lyons


Domestic terrorism attacks, particularly by white supremacist and anti-government extremists, are rising and security officials are on heightened alert. Between 2015 and 2020, far-right extremists were involved in 256 attacks or plots that killed 90 people in the United States, while there were 62 attacks by far-left extremists that killed 19 people. Terrorism experts say rising social and political tensions over police violence, immigration and government restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic have spurred extremists to use violence to accomplish their goals. Despite the increase in incidents, there is sharp disagreement among lawmakers, terrorism experts and civil liberties groups on causes and solutions, including whether or how much political leaders' rhetoric incites people with extreme views, whether new criminal laws could stem the violence and whether citizens can be deterred from adopting conspiracy theories. Other experts argue that domestic extremist groups should be listed as terrorist groups much like international terrorist groups.

Photo of insurrectionists storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Getty Images/Los Angeles Times/Kent Nishimura)
Protesters, fueled by President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud, stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden's electoral win. The attack heightened the debate on domestic terrorism and concerns about a rise in violent extremism. (Getty Images/Los Angeles Times/Kent Nishimura)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 14, 2021  Domestic Terrorism
Apr. 09, 2021  Targeted Killings
Apr. 01, 2016  Defeating the Islamic State
Jan. 29, 2016  Unrest in Turkey
Jun. 27, 2014  Assessing the Threat From al Qaeda
Sep. 02, 2011  Remembering 9/11
Sep. 03, 2010  Homegrown Jihadists
Mar. 12, 2010  Prosecuting Terrorists Updated
Nov. 2009  Terrorism and the Internet
Feb. 13, 2009  Homeland Security
Apr. 21, 2006  Port Security
Oct. 14, 2005  Global Jihad
Apr. 02, 2004  Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism
Feb. 22, 2002  Policing the Borders
Oct. 12, 2001  War on Terrorism
Jul. 21, 1995  Combating Terrorism
Aug. 26, 1988  New Approach to Mideast Terrorism
May 30, 1986  Dealing With Terrorism
Oct. 08, 1982  Prospects for Peace in Northern Ireland
Mar. 27, 1981  Anti-Terrorism: New Priority in Foreign Policy
Dec. 02, 1977  International Terrorism
Jan. 26, 1973  Control of Skyjacking
May 13, 1970  Political Terrorism
Jul. 24, 1952  Red Terrorism in Malaya
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Civil Rights Movement
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
General Social Trends
Hate Groups
Internet and Social Media
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Race and Hate Crimes
Segregation and Desegregation
Sentencing and Corrections
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
U.S. Constitution
Voting and Suffrage