Over the last thirty years, there are annually between 15,000 and 23,000 murders in the United States. And yet given the level of scrutiny related to American Muslims, one would be forgiven to think that it is Muslims who somehow present an existential threat to America. A recent careful study indicates that the threat of terrorist attacks initiated by American Muslims is vastly exaggerated: Terrorist acts initiated by American Muslims account for 33 of that 15,000 to 23,000.
Here is the conclusion of the report, conducted by the Triangle Center for Terrorism and Homeland Security. The conclusion is important enough to warrant being quoted in full:
Almost 200 Muslim-Americans have been involved in violent plots of terrorism over this decade, and more than 400 Muslim- Americans have been indicted or convicted for supporting terrorism. In 2011, the numbers dropped in both categories, and the severity of the cases also appeared to lessen: Muslim- American terrorist plots led to no fatalities in the United States, and the year’s four indictments for terrorist financing indictments involved relatively small amounts of money.
As in previous years, non-Muslims were also involved in domestic terrorism, proving once again that Muslims do not have a monopoly on violence. This study has not attempted to analyze those cases.
The limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim- American terrorism would escalate. The spike in terrorism cases in 2009 renewed these concerns, as have repeated warnings from U.S. government officials about a possible surge in homegrown Islamic terrorism. The predicted surge has not materialized.
Repeated alerts by government officials may be issued as a precaution, even when the underlying threat is uncertain. Officials may be concerned about how they would look if an attack did take place and subsequent investigations showed that officials had failed to warn the public. But a byproduct of these alerts is a sense of heightened tension that is out of proportion to the actual number of terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11.
This study’s findings challenge Americans to be vigilant against the threat of homegrown terrorism while maintaining a responsible sense of proportion.
“Responsible sense of proportion.”
33 out of some 15,000 to 23,000.
One life lost to violence is one too many. Whatever the cause, one life lost is too many.
But to allocate our resources in a responsible fashion, keeping a sense of proportion doesn’t seem too much to ask for, does it?