White supremacists were responsible for twice as many U.S. murders as Islamic extremists were reponsible for last year, according to a new report.
Extremists of all stripes killed 34 people last year in the U.S., according to the Anti-Defamation League’s “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017” report. Of those 34 deaths, white supremacists were responsible for 18 — more than half — while Islamic extremists were linked to 9, the report found.
The number of murders committed by white supremacists doubled from the number of white supremacist-linked killings in 2016, according to the report. Included in that number is the death of Heather Heyer, who was protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., when rally attendee James Fields, 20, allegedly ran her over with his car.
“We cannot ignore the fact that white supremacists are emboldened, and as a society we need to keep a close watch on recruitment and rallies such as Charlottesville,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the CEO of Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement.
The total number of extremist-linked murders fell from higher death counts in both 2015 and 2016. Still, the report found, last year was the fifth deadliest in terms of violent extremism since 1970.
“These findings are a stark reminder that domestic extremism is a serious threat to our safety and security,” Greenblatt said.
Extremist-linked deaths in 2016 were dominated by the June Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., which left 49 dead, the Miami Herald reports. The suspected shooter, Omar Mateen, was motivated by Islamic extremism.
Eight of the nine deaths linked to Islamic extremism in 2017 occurred during one attack in New York City, when a man drove a rented truck into a bike path on Halloween.
Greenblatt pointed to two separate incidents in the U.S. in 2017 to demonstrate the broad spectrum of motivations for extremist-linked violence in the country — including anti-government extremism, black nationalism, Islamic extremism, white supremacy and more.
“We saw two car-ramming attacks in the U.S. last year—one from an Islamic terrorist and another from a white supremacist in Charlottesville,” Greenblatt said. “The bottom line is we cannot ignore one form of extremism over another. We must tackle them all.”
In contrast to previous years, murder by firearm became less common in 2017, according to the report. Only 20 of the 34 murders the Anti-Defamation League counted last year were committed with firearms. That’s 59 percent of all the extremist murders the Anti-Defamation League tallied, compared to 93 percent committed with a firearm in 2016 and 80 percent in 2015.
Over the last 10 years, an average of 72 percent of extremist-linked murders were committed with firearms, the report said.
But not all white supremacist or extremist plots end in murder. Taylor Wilson, 26 — who had expressed interest in “killing black people,” according to the FBI — has been charged with planning to commit criminal acts or acts of terrorism after investigators say he tried stopping an Amtrak train in rural Nebraska last year for a potential attack. Wilson was safely subdued by rain workers until law enforcement arrived.
The FBI found a cache of weapons and white supremacist documents hidden behind his refrigerator when they searched his home, investigators said.