Are homegrown radicals more dangerous than jihadis? This is the question that is on a lot of Americans' minds after the recent string of mass killings in the U.S. The murder of nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, is just the latest in a series of deadly attacks by people who advocate racial hatred and hostility toward the government.
According to Scott Shane from the New York Times, since September 11, 2001, almost twice as many people have been killed in the U.S. by non-Muslim white supremacists than jihadis and other radical extremists who are considered terrorists.
A count by New America, a research center in Washington, revealed that 48 people have died in the U.S. because of homegrown radicals who are not Muslims, compared with 26 who died at the hands of self-proclaimed jihadists.
The most recent case that highlights the research was the massacre in a church frequented by blacks in Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine dead. The attack, which occurred last week, is considered to be a "hate crime," and it ignited racial tensions among Americans and has revived the debate about the prevalence of white supremacy and homegrown radicals. But the episode is just another example of a series of deadly attacks carried out by people who express hatred towards the government and theories that deny the legitimacy of American laws.
"Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists," said Dr. Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina.
Data from a survey that will be published this week revealed that when 382 police departments and police stations around the country were asked which were the three largest extremism threats at each of their respective jurisdictions, 74 percent of respondents said violence against the government, while 39 percent pointed to Al-Qaeda. Although these numbers are new to the public, they were already known by the authorities.
According to terrorism expert John G. Horgan from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the gap between public perceptions and actual cases is increasingly obvious to scholars.
"There's an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown," Dr. Horgan expressed. "And there's a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated."
What's your opinion on the matter? Do you believe homegrown radicals are more dangerous than jihadis?