U.S. Domestic Islamist Extremism 2019

violent aspirations, claiming he was applying to join the army “not to fight foe[sic] Jewish internets[sic] [likely a typo for interests]…But to learn how to kill.”  These plots serve as a vital reminder of the many threats confronting the Jewish community, and they underscore that foreign terror organizations’ hateful ideologies can move Americans sympathetic to their cause to violence.

In addition to the continued threat that domestic Islamist extremists pose to religious communities, the 2019 data reaffirm that U.S. citizens continue to account for the majority of individuals planning attacks inspired by domestic Islamist extremism—seven of the nine arrested individuals were U.S. citizens (approximately 78%). The remaining two were a lawful permanent resident and a refugee. Like past years, the most significant threat of 2019 appeared to come from individuals residing within United States borders, not from outside them. 

Arrests/Criminal Activity
In addition to the nine individuals arrested for plotting attacks, 21 others were arrested for engaging in domestic criminal activity motivated by Islamist extremism in 2019. Of those 21 individuals, a large majority faced charges for attempting to provide material support (e.g. by attempting to travel abroad to join a foreign terror group, attempting to provide weaponry to the group, and sharing instructions for attack-planning) to a foreign terror organization, namely ISIS. However, a small number named Lashkar e-Tayyiba, the Taliban, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Hezbollah as their sources of inspiration.

It is notable that approximately 70 percent of domestic Islamist extremist criminal activity in 2019 was inspired by ISIS, which has reportedly lost all of its territory in Iraq and Syria.

The group’s ability to continue inspiring a large percentage of violent activity after it was effectively disbanded demonstrates the lasting influence ISIS’s ideology and propaganda have on Islamist extremist activity in the United States. Moreover, other foreign terror organizations’ influence on Islamist extremist criminal activity indicates that one group’s demise does not denote the decline of the broader ideology. Instead, the threat of Islamist extremism remains high, and so long as the ideology persists, made increasingly widespread through online propaganda, extremists will continue to source their inspiration from violent rhetoric and instruction.    

Key Highlights

·  While there were no attacks or murders linked to domestic Islamist extremism in 2019, there were 30 arrests, nine of which were for terror plots, indicating that Islamist extremism continues to pose a threat to the United States.

·  In 2019, there was a 50 percent increase in arrests and plots linked to domestic Islamist extremism.

·  The 2019 terror plot targets highlight extremists’ sustained focus on targeting religious institutions, and antisemitism remains a key staple of the violent ideology.

·  Of the nine individuals arrested for plotting terror attacks linked to domestic Islamist extremism, seven (78 percent) were U.S. citizens—a statistic that emphasizes the homegrown nature of the Islamist extremist threat in the U.S.

·  While ISIS has been effectively disbanded and no longer holds territory in Iraq and Syria, its violent rhetoric and propaganda continue to inspire the majority of terror plots and criminal activity linked to domestic Islamist extremism.

The articleis published courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League(ADL).