Domestic terrorism in the United States
Domestic terrorism in the United States consists of incidents confirmed as or suspected to be terrorist acts. These attacks are considered domestic because they were carried out by U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.
- 1 Definitions of domestic terrorism
- 2 Anti-abortion violence
- 3 Eco-terrorism
- 4 Terrorist organizations
- 4.1 Animal Liberation Front
- 4.2 Alpha 66 and Omega 7
- 4.3 Army of God
- 4.4 Aryan Nations
- 4.5 Black Liberation Army
- 4.6 The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord
- 4.7 Earth Liberation Front
- 4.8 Jewish Defense League
- 4.9 Ku Klux Klan
- 4.10 May 19th Communist Organization
- 4.11 The Order
- 4.12 Phineas Priesthood
- 4.13 Symbionese Liberation Army
- 4.14 United Freedom Front
- 4.15 Weathermen
- 5 Notable domestic terrorist attacks
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
Definitions of domestic terrorism
The statutory definition of domestic terrorism in the United States has changed many times over the years; also, it can be argued that acts of domestic terrorism have been occurring since long before any legal definition was set forth.
According to a memo produced by the FBI's Terrorist Research and Analytical Center in 1994, domestic terrorism was defined as "the unlawful use of force or violence, committed by a group(s) of two or more individuals, against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
Under current United States law, set forth in the USA PATRIOT Act, acts of domestic terrorism are those which: "(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States."
Anti-abortion violence, considered a form of terrorism, is often committed in the United States against individuals and organizations that provide abortions or abortion counseling. Incidents have included crimes against people, such as murder, assault, kidnapping, and stalking; crimes affecting both people and property, such as arson or bombing; and property crimes such as vandalism. Perpetrators may defend their actions as necessary to protect fetuses, and are often motivated by their Christian beliefs, leading to anti-abortion violence's identification as Christian terrorism; it is also associated with opposition to women's rights.
Notable incidents of anti-abortion violence include the murders of a number of doctors and clinic staff in the 1990s.
- In 1993, Michael F. Griffin shot Dr. David Gunn to death during a protest.
- In 1994, Paul Jennings Hill shot Dr. John Britton and clinic escort James Barrett to death, also wounding Barrett's wife June; John Salvi shot and killed two receptionists, Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols.
- Eric Robert Rudolph bombed the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta in protest of abortion, killing one person and wounding 111, and bombed several abortion clinics in 1997 and 1998, killing a security guard and critically injuring a nurse.
- In 1998, James Kopp shot a number of abortion providers, killing one, Dr. Barnett Slepian.
As well, Scott Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in 2009 as Tiller served as an usher at church; he had previously been a target in 1993, when he was shot by Shelley Shannon. The Army of God, an underground terrorist organization, has been responsible for a substantial amount of anti-abortion violence, including a number of the above murders.
According to the FBI in June 2008, eco-terrorists and extreme animal rights activists represent "one of the most serious domestic terrorism threats in the U.S. today". They committed over 2,000 crimes and caused over $110 million in damages since 1979, against targets including lumber companies, animal testing facilities and genetic research firms.
Animal Liberation Front
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a name used internationally by activists who engage in direct action against persons and/or organizations that the activists perceive are harming animals. This includes removing animals from laboratories and fur farms, and sabotaging facilities involved in animal testing and other animal-based industries. According to ALF statements, any act that furthers the cause of animal liberation, where all reasonable precautions are taken not to endanger life, may be claimed as an ALF action. The group is listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a domestic terrorist organization.
Alpha 66 and Omega 7
Alpha 66 (still existent) and Omega 7 (now defunct) were two affiliated Cuban exile action groups who have carried out many bombings and acts of sabotage. While many of these attacks have historically been directed at Cuba and the Castro government, many of them occurred domestically, especially during the period of Cuba-US diplomacy and negotiations in the 1970s known as "el Diálogo" (the dialogue) when powerful anti-Castro figures in Miami attempted to terrorize those in their community who favored a more moderate approach. Luciano Nieves, for instance, was killed for advocating peaceful coexistence with Cuba. WQBA-AM news director Emilio Milian lost his legs in a car bomb after he publicly condemned Cuban exile violence. These cases of terrorism were documented extensively in the book Miami by Joan Didion. Human Rights Watch released a report in 1992 in which they claimed that the more extreme exiles have created a political environment in Miami where "moderation can be a dangerous position."
Army of God
The Army of God (AOG) is a loose network of individuals and groups connected by ideological affinity and the determination to use force to end abortion in the United States. Acts of anti-abortion violence increased in the mid-1990s culminating in a series of bombings by Eric Robert Rudolph, whose targets included two abortion clinics, a gay and lesbian night club, and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Letters sent to newspapers claim responsibility for the bombing of the abortion clinics in the name of the Army of God.
Aryan Nations (AN) is a white nationalist neo-Nazi organization founded in the 1970s by Richard Girnt Butler as an arm of the Christian Identity group known as the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. As of December 2007 there were two main factions that claimed descent from Butler's group. The Aryan Nations has been called a "terrorist threat" by the FBI, and the RAND Corporation has called it the "first truly nationwide terrorist network" in the USA.
Black Liberation Army
A splinter group made up of the more radical members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army (BLA) sought to overthrow the US government in the name of racial separatism and Marxist ideals. The Fraternal Order of Police blames the BLA for the murders of 13 police officers. According to a Justice Department report on BLA activity, the group was suspected of involvement in over 60 incidents of violence between 1970 and 1980.
The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord
The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) was a radical Christian Identity organization formed in 1971 in the small community of Elijah in southern Missouri, United States.
Earth Liberation Front
Jewish Defense League
The Jewish Defense League (JDL) was founded in 1969 by Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York City. FBI statistics show that, from 1980 to 1985, 15 terrorist attacks were attempted in the U.S. by JDL members. The FBI’s Mary Doran described the JDL in 2004 Congressional testimony as "a proscribed terrorist group". The National Consortium for the Study of Terror and Responses to Terrorism states that, during the JDL's first two decades of activity, it was an "active terrorist organization." Kahane later founded the far right Israeli political party Kach.
Ku Klux Klan
During reconstruction at the end of the civil war the original KKK used domestic terroristic methods against the Federal Government and freed slaves. During the 20th century, leading up to civil rights movement, unrelated Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups used threats, violence, arson, and murder to further its anti-Catholic, anti-Communist, anti-semitic, and white-supremacist agenda. Domestic terrorists with agendas similar to the KKK include neo-Nazis and white power skinheads.
May 19th Communist Organization
The May 19 Coalition (also variously referred to as the May 19 Communist Coalition, May 19 Communist Organization, and various alternatives of M19CO), was a US-based, self-described revolutionary organization formed by members of the Weather Underground Organization. The group was originally known as the New York chapter of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee (PFOC), an organization devoted to legally promoting the causes of the Weather Underground. This was part of Prairie Fire Manifesto change in Weather Underground Organization strategy, which demanded both aboveground mass and clandestine organizations. The role of the clandestine organization would be to build the "consciousness of action" and prepare the way for the development of a people's militia. Concurrently, the role of the mass movement (i.e., above ground Prairie Fire Collective) would include support for, and encouragement of, armed action. Such an alliance would, according to Weather, "help create the 'sea' for the guerrillas to swim in."
The Order, also known as the Brüder Schweigen or Silent Brotherhood, was an organization active in the United States between 1983 and 1984. The Order, a white nationalist revolutionary group, is probably best known for the 1984 murder of radio talk show host Alan Berg.
The Phineas Priesthood (Phineas Priests) is a Christian Identity movement that opposes interracial intercourse, the mixing of races, homosexuality, and abortion. It is also marked by its anti-Semitism, anti-multiculturalism, and opposition to taxation. It is not considered an organization because it is not led by a governing body, there are no gatherings, and there is no membership process. One becomes a Phineas Priest by simply adopting the beliefs of the Priesthood and acting upon those beliefs. Members of the Priesthood are often called terrorists for, among other things, planning to blow up FBI buildings, abortion clinic bombings, and bank robberies.
Symbionese Liberation Army
The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) was an American self-styled, far left "urban guerrilla warfare group" that considered itself a revolutionary vanguard army. The group committed bank robberies, two murders, and other acts of violence between 1973 and 1975. Among their most notorious acts was the kidnapping and the brainwashing of the newspaper heiress Patty Hearst.
United Freedom Front
The United Freedom Front (UFF) was a small American Marxist organization active in the 1970s and 1980s. It was originally called the Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson Unit, and its members became known as the Ohio 7 when they were brought to trial. Between 1975 and 1984 the UFF carried out at least 20 bombings and nine bank robberies in the northeastern United States, targeting corporate buildings, courthouses, and military facilities. Brent L. Smith describes them as "undoubtedly the most successful of the leftist terrorists of the 1970s and 1980s." The group's members were eventually apprehended and convicted of conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, and other charges. Two, Tom Manning and Jaan Laaman, remain incarcerated today.
The Weather Underground Organization was a far left organization active from 1969 to 1975. It originated in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their supporters. The group collapsed shortly after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975.
Notable domestic terrorist attacks
Wall Street bombing
The Wall Street bombing was a terrorist incident that occurred on September 16, 1920, in the Financial District of New York City. A horse-drawn wagon filled with 100 pounds (45 kg) of dynamite was stationed across the street from the headquarters of the J.P. Morgan Inc. bank. The explosion killed 38 and injured 400. Even though no one was found guilty, it is believed that the act was carried out by followers of Luigi Galleani.
From 1978 to 1995, Harvard University graduate and former mathematics professor Theodore "Ted" Kaczynski – known by the codename "UNABOM" until his identification and arrest by the FBI – carried out a campaign of sending letterbombs to academics and various individuals particularly associated with modern technology. In 1996, his manifesto was published in The New York Times and The Washington Post, under the threat of more attacks. The bomb campaign ended with his capture.
Attacks by the Jewish Defense League
In 2004 congressional testimony, John S. Pistole, Executive Assistant Director for Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence for the Federal Bureau of Investigation described the JDL as "a known violent extremist Jewish Organization." FBI statistics show that, from 1980 through 1985, there were 18 terrorist attacks in the U.S. committed by Jews; 15 of those by members of the JDL. Mary Doran, an FBI agent, described the JDL in a 2004 Congressional testimony as "a proscribed terrorist group". Most recently, then-JDL Chairman Irv Rubin was jailed while awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy in planning bomb attacks against the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California, and on the office of Arab-American Congressman Darrell Issa. In its report, Terrorism 2000/2001, the FBI referred to the JDL as a "violent extremist Jewish organization" and stated that the FBI was responsible for thwarting at least one of its terrorist acts.
Oklahoma City bombing
This truck bomb attack by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people on April 19, 1995 – the deadliest domestic-based terrorist attack in US history and, before the September 11, 2001 attacks, the deadliest act of terrorism in US history. It inspired improvements to United States federal building security.
Centennial Olympic Park bombing
The Centennial Olympic Park bombing was a terrorist bombing on July 27, 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States during the 1996 Summer Olympics, the first of four committed by Eric Robert Rudolph, former explosives expert for the United States Army. Two people died, and 111 were injured.
Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting
On August 5, 2012, Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others in a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Page was an American white supremacist and United States Army veteran from Cudahy, Wisconsin. All of the dead were members of the Sikh faith.
Southern California shootings
Over several days in early February 2013, Christopher Dorner killed three police officers and a basketball coach, leading to a widescale manhunt and his eventual suicide during a standoff with police.
- Anti-abortion violence in the United States
- Bath School Disaster
- 2009 Fort Hood shooting
- Jihadist extremism in the United States
- List of incidents of political violence in Washington, D.C.
- Resistance Conspiracy case
- Terrorism in the United States
- Militant Extremists in the United States - Council on Foreign Relations
- Rise of Domestic Terrorism and Its Relation to United States Armed Forces
- Putting Intel to Work Against ELF and ALF Terrorists, Federal Bureau of Investigation, June 2008.
- "Threat of Terrorism to the United States" Testimony of Louis J. Freeh, Director, FBI, May 10, 2001
- Terrorism Knowledge Base
- Bohn, Michael K. (2004). The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Lessons in the Politics and Prejudice of Terrorism. Brassey's Inc. p. 67. ISBN 1-57488-779-3.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation - Congressional Testimony
- Anti-Defamation League on JDL
- JDL group profile from National Consortium for the Study of Terror and Responses to Terrorism
- Jacobs, Ron (1997). The Way The Wind Blew: A History Of The Weather Underground. Verso. pp. 76–77. ISBN 1-85984-167-8. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
- Smith, Brent L. (1994). Terrorism in America: pipe bombs and pipe dreams. SUNY Press. Pages 111-112
- Smith, Brent L. (1994). Terrorism in America: pipe bombs and pipe dreams. SUNY Press. Page 110
- Wakin, Daniel J., "Quieter Lives for 60's Militants, but Intensity of Beliefs Hasn't Faded", article The New York Times, August 24, 2003, retrieved June 7, 2008
- Terrorism 2000/2001[dead link]
- Associated Press article on the findings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science panel on Domestic Terrorism[dead link]
- NOW on PBS Are Some Anti-Abortion Attacks Domestic Terrorism?
- Terrorism & Public Safety Policing: Implications of the Obama Presidency. Pastor, James F. (2009). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-4398-1580-9.