Extremist-Linked Mass Killings Spiked in Past Decade

February 23, 2023

The number of mass killings in the U.S. linked to extremists tripled in the past decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League.

Between two and seven extremism-related mass killings occurred every decade from the 1970s to the 2000s, but in the 2010s that number spiked to 21, according to the report from the ADL’s Center on Extremism.

The trend continued with five extremist mass killings in 2021 and 2022 alone.

The report further found that all extremist killings identified in 2022 were linked to right-wing extremism, with an especially high number linked to white supremacy. 

Among them were the May 14 massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, where the suspect authored an online post detailing his white supremacist ideologies and plans to target the Black community. The shooter took the lives of ten Black victims in that slaughter.

There was also the November 19 massacre at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, where the shooter opened fire inside the club, killing five people and injuring at least 25 others. This week, a police detective testified in the shooting suspect’s trial that he ran a neo-Nazi website and used gay and racial slurs while gaming online.

The number of victims has also risen, according to the report. Between 2010 and 2020, a total of 164 people died from extremist-driven mass killings, a marked increase over any other decade except the 1990s, which was overshadowed by the bombing at the 1995 bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. That act of terrorism killed 168 people, including 19 children who had been in the building’s day-care center. 

By contrast to Oklahoma City, 93% of the killings in 2022 were committed with guns. The report also noted that no police officers were killed by extremists last year—the first time since 2011.

Left-wing extremists, meanwhile, have engaged in violence ranging from assaults to fire-bombings and arsons, the report noted, “but since the late 1980s have not often targeted people with deadly violence.” 

“The same cannot be said for domestic Islamist extremists,” the report went on, “but deadly incidents linked to Islamist extremism have decreased significantly in the U.S. over the past five years.”

And with the waning of the terrorist organization ISIS, the main threat in the near future will likely be white supremacist shooters, the report found. 

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