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Identity of terrorists in attacks in the United States between 1980 and 2005, stats from FBI, graphic courtesy

The 2002 – 2005  FBI Terrorism Report states that during this period – when the nation was focused on Muslims as perpetrators of terrorist acts – 23 of the 24 recorded terrorist incidents were perpetrated by non Muslims. “With the exception of a white supremacist’s firebombing of a synagogue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, all of the domestic terrorist incidents were committed by special interest extremists active in the animal rights and environmental movements.” The only international terrorist incident during the period was a July 4, 2002 attack by Hesham Hedayet which killed two people at the El Al counter at the Los Angeles airport

Of “terrorist preventions,” eight of 14 stemmed from right-wing extremism. Many of these “preventions” received almost no national media coverage, in stark contrast to the media spotlight that almost certainly would have been focused on them had the perpetrator(s) been Muslim.

As an example, little attention outside of Florida was paid to the elaborate plan to bomb a Florida Islamic education center and “kill all rags” drawn up by Robert Jay Goldstein, a Tampa podiatrist. An FBI search of his home in August 2002 uncovered 15 explosive devices and a list of 50 Islamic mosques and other centers.  His cache of weapons included hand grenades, mines and more than 30 guns, among them semi-automatic weapons, 50-caliber machine guns and sniper rifles.  Goldstein was not referred to as a “terrorist” in the limited national coverage on CNN and the Associated Press and neither was there a mention of his religious background. At trial, he entered a plea bargain and was sentenced to 12 years, while his wife and two associates got shorter sentences.

A 2003 terror plot that was largely ignored involved William Krar and other white supremacists. A huge cache of weapons belonging to them was uncovered in East Texas after documents that Krar had mailed to a New Jersey militia member were delivered by mistake to a New York address and turned over to the police. Federal agents discovered a sodium cyanide bomb, at least 100 other bombs, machine guns, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and a stockpile of chemical agents in the Noonday, Texas storage facility.

Check out this report from Southern Poverty Law Center report, Terror from the Right, for more information.

When in April 2009 the Department of Homeland Security published a report on the dangers of “Rightward Extremism,” there was a huge public outcry against the DHS and significant media coverage. In response to pressure from the right, the DHS subsequently “cut the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam,” according to the June 7, 2011 Washington Post.

Jared Loughner was not referred to as a “terrorist” after reportedly gunning down six people and injuring 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Gifford, in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011. Would that have been different if his name had been Mohammed? 

A few days later, very little media attention was given the discovery of a backpack with an incendiary device found along the route of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington. The FBI said it posed a “credible threat.”

The extent of the “credible threat” represented by newly-aroused white supremacists and more than one hundred heavily-armed antigovernment militias organizing to “take back America” was spelled out in chilling detail by an investigation in the October 11, 2010 issue of Time.

In addition to the militias, there are “lone wolves” like the white supremacist James Cummings of Belfast, Maine, who had expressed an ambition to kill the president. According to the Time report, he had succeeded in obtaining and assembling the ingredients for a “dirty bomb” when he was shot dead by his wife whom he had reportedly long abused.

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