Violent Far-Right Agitators Behind Vast Majority of Extremist Killings in US, New ADL Report Shows
Far-right extremists were connected to “at least 16” of 17 extremist murders in 2020 as “extremist activity in general” continued to rise, a new Anti-Defamation League (ADL) study revealed on Wednesday.
“While there were fewer extremist-related killings in 2020, extremist activity in general was on the rise,” the Jewish civil rights organization said in a statement.
“ADL recorded 16 right-wing extremist-related terrorist attacks or plots in 2020 (through November), an increase from the 13 recorded in 2019. Additionally, ADL documented more than 5,000 incidents of white supremacist propaganda distribution in the U.S. in 2020, compared to 2,724 in 2019,” the statement said.
In its annual analysis of fatalities caused by domestic extremism, the ADL observed that social distancing protocols arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a more proactive approach from law enforcement, had impacted extremist behavior. Data gathered in 2020 showed a “significant decrease from the 45 extremist-related murders in 19 incidents documented in 2019, and the 54 murders in 20 incidents in 2018.”
The ADL noted that in 2020, “there was an absence of mass shooting sprees, such as the August 2019 white supremacist attack on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which resulted in 23 deaths. It is possible that fewer public gatherings may have discouraged mass shootings of that nature, as well as early intervention by law enforcement, which thwarted several terrorist plots in 2020.”
Breaking down the 16 far right extremist killings in 2020, the ADL noted that “slightly over half (nine) were committed by white supremacists. Four of these murders were committed by people tied to white supremacist prison gangs, while the others appear to have been carried out by non-affiliated white supremacists rather than members of specific groups.”
On Thursday, the ADL will present a new plan to combat domestic terrorism — called PROTECT — at a public House Committee on Homeland Security hearing that will examine the events that led to the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot. The organization’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said that the plan “takes aim at violent conspiracies, hate attacks, terroristic threats, campaigns of intimidation and harassment and other offenses.”