Domestic terrorism in the United States

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Domestic terrorism in the United States between 1980 and 2000 consisted of 250 of the 335 incidents confirmed as or suspected to be terrorist acts by the FBI. These 250 attacks are considered domestic by the FBI because they were carried out by U.S. citizens.[1]

Contents

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."[2]

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."[3]

Terrorist organizations

Animal Liberation Front

Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is a name used internationally by activists who engage in direct action tactics on behalf of 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)[4] 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

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,[5] and the RAND Corporation has called it the "first truly nationwide terrorist network" in the USA.[6]

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

The Earth Liberation Front has been classified as a top "domestic terror" threat in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation since March 2001. [7]

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.[8] The FBI’s Mary Doran described the JDL in 2004 Congressional testimony as "a proscribed terrorist group".[9] 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."[10][11] Kahane later founded the far right Israeli political party Kach.

Ku Klux Klan

From reconstruction at the end of the civil war to the end of the civil rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) used threats, violence, arson, and murder to further its white-supremacist, anti-Communist, anti-semitic and anti-Catholic 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." [12]

The Order

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.

Phineas Priesthood

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.[citation needed]

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.[13] Brent L. Smith describes them as "undoubtedly the most successful of the leftist terrorists of the 1970s and 1980s."[14] 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.

Weathermen

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)[15] 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 attacks associated with domestic terrorism

Bombing of Los Angeles Times building

The bombing of the Los Angeles Times on October 1, 1910 killed 21 people.[16] The perpetrators of this crime were the McNamara brothers (James and John McNamara), two Irish-American brothers who wanted to unionize the paper. The McNamaras became a cause célèbre amongst the labor movement in the United States, though their support eroded when they admitted their guilt.

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.

Bath, Michigan bombings

On May 18, 1927, in Bath, Michigan, a radicalist school board member named Andrew Kehoe—angry at local taxes that he believed caused his farm to be foreclosed, and other government policies—set off three bombs and killed forty-five people, including thirty-eight students and seven adults, also blowing up half of the Bath Consolidated School.

Unabomber attacks

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."[17] 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.[13] 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.

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.

2001 anthrax attacks

The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States occurred over the course of several weeks beginning on September 18, 2001. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two Democratic U.S. Senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others. In mid-2008, the FBI narrowed its focus to Bruce Edwards Ivins, a scientist who worked at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. Ivins was told of the impending prosecution and on July 29 committed suicide, by an overdose of acetaminophen.

Knoxville Unitarian Church shooting

On July 27, 2008, a politically motivated fatal shooting took place at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Motivated by a desire to kill liberals and Democrats, gunman Jim David Adkisson fired a shotgun at members of the congregation, killing two people and wounding seven others.

Murder of George Tiller

On May 31, 2009, George Tiller, a physician from Wichita, Kansas who was nationally known for being one of the few doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions, was shot and killed by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist. Tiller was killed during a Sunday morning service at his church, where he was serving as an usher. Multiple action groups and media figures have labeled Tiller's killing an act of domestic terrorism and an assassination.

Roeder was arrested within three hours of the shooting and charged with first-degree murder and related crimes two days later. In November 2009 Roeder publicly confessed to the killing, telling the Associated Press that he had shot Tiller because "preborn children's lives were in imminent danger." Roeder was found guilty of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault on January 29, 2010, and sentenced to life without parole for 50 years on April 1, 2010.

Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting

An elderly man with believed ties to neo-Nazi groups opened fire on June 10, 2009 at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, killing one guard. James W. Von Brunn, 88, from Maryland, reportedly entered the museum shortly before 1 p.m. EDT, took out what appeared to be a rifle and fired at a security guard. Two other security guards returned fire, striking the shooter, according to reports. Von Brunn died on January 6, 2010, while awaiting trial.

Fort Hood shooting

The Fort Hood shooting was a mass shooting that took place on November 5, 2009, at Fort Hood—the most populous U.S. military installation in the world, located just outside Killeen, Texas—in which a gunman killed 13 people and wounded 30 others.

The sole suspect is Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major serving as a psychiatrist. He was shot by Department of the Army Civilian Police officers, and is now paralyzed from the chest down. Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice; he may face additional charges at court-martial.

Austin IRS attack

On February 18, 2010, Andrew Joseph Stack III flew his airplane into the IRS building in Austin, TX killing himself and one other person and injuring many more in an act of lone wolf terrorism. He cited many reasons for his grievance against the government of the United States as well as other facets of the country such as bailout of financial institutions, politicians in general, conglomerate companies of General Motors, Enron and Arthur Andersen, labor unions, drug and health care insurance companies, and the Catholic Church. He added a meeting with a poor widow who never got pension benefits she was promised, the effect of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on engineers, the September 11 attacks airline bailouts that only benefited the airlines but not the suffering engineers, how a Certified Public Accountant he hired seemed to side with the government to take extra tax money from him, criticism of the FAA and the George W. Bush administration were reasons for him to call for violent revolt.

See also

References

  1. ^ Militant Extremists in the United States - Council on Foreign Relations
  2. ^ Rise of Domestic Terrorism and Its Relation to United States Armed Forces
  3. ^ http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=107_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ056.107.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.armyofgod.com/
  5. ^ "Threat of Terrorism to the United States" Testimony of Louis J. Freeh, Director, FBI, May 10, 2001
  6. ^ Terrorism Knowledge Base
  7. ^ http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terror/terrorism-2000-2001
  8. ^ Bohn, Michael K. (2004). The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Lessons in the Politics and Prejudice of Terrorism. Brassey's Inc.. pp. 67. ISBN 1-57488-779-3.
  9. ^ Federal Bureau of Investigation - Congressional Testimony
  10. ^ Anti-Defamation League on JDL
  11. ^ JDL group profile from National Consortium for the Study of Terror and Responses to Terrorism
  12. ^ Jacobs, Ron (1997). The Way The Wind Blew: A History Of The Weather Underground. Verso. pp. 76–77. ISBN 1-85984-167-8. http://www.archive.org/stream/TheWayTheWindBlewAHistoryOfTheWeatherUnderground/waythewindblew_djvu.txt. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  13. ^ Smith, Brent L. (1994). Terrorism in America: pipe bombs and pipe dreams. SUNY Press. Pages 111-112
  14. ^ Smith, Brent L. (1994). Terrorism in America: pipe bombs and pipe dreams. SUNY Press. Page 110
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ New York Daily News, October 2005
  17. ^ http://www.fbi.gov/congress/congress04/pistole041404.htm

Further reading