By Garikai Chengu
Since September 11, extremists associated with various far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, and Jewish extremists, have killed far more people in the United States than extremists motivated by radical Islam.
According to the FBI only 6 percent of terror attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 have been committed by Muslims. In fact, since 1980, Jewish extremists have committed more terror attacks in the U.S. than their Muslim counterparts.
The threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism has been largely manufactured so that the so-called War on Terror can promote profitable militarism abroad and erode civil liberties at home.
Fourteen years after 9/11, al Qaeda has not successfully conducted another attack inside the United States. According to a recent Harvard University report named The Exaggerated Threat of Home Grown Terror “since 2001, despite warnings by public officials and terrorism analysts, there is little evidence that the risk of terrorist attacks in the United States by American Muslims is especially serious or growing.”
So why then has the United States spent over $6 trillion dollars on the War on Terror?
Harvard highlights that since 2001 there have been only three successful domestic Islamic terrorist attacks: Major Nidal Hasan’s Fort Hood attack and a lesser known shooting by the Muslim convert Carlos Bledsoe outside an Arkansas recruiting station, which harmed two soldiers, and the Boston marathon bombings which killed three people.
One centuries old example of U.S. government double standards when it comes to terrorism is the infamous Klu Klux Klan. The Klan has terrorized and killed far Americans than Islamic terrorists ever have and despite being America’s oldest terrorist organization, the U.S. government does not officially consider the KKK a terrorist organization, classifying it merely as a “hate group”.
By classifying the KKK’s actions as hate rather than terror, the U.S. government allows the Klan, unlike Al Qaeda, to freely hold rallies in America, fundraise and even appear on TV to promote their ideology. Recently Franc Ancona, a KKK leader, appeared on national television and threatened “lethal force” against protestors in Ferguson. Bombings, lynchings, tar-and-featherings and other violent attacks on those challenging white supremacy have always been the hallmark of the Klan.
Of course, the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, prior to 9/11, was the Oklahoma City bombing, which was masterminded by Timothy McVeigh, a man with deep ties to far-right Nazi militant circles. In 2011, Kevin Harpham, who had served in the army, placed a bomb along the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. In 2012, Wade Michael Page killed six people in a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Page was a member of a white supremacist band and associated with the Hammerskins, a violent neo-Nazi group. A few months ago an Imperial Grand Wizard of the KKK from Kansas, went on a killing spree whilst shouting “heil Hitler”, in which a fourteen year old boy was among the dead.
Despite the growing number of mass shootings and terrorist attacks by the far right, the media chooses to focus almost exclusively on the lesser threat of radical Islam. Media pundits routinely demand that moderate Muslims condemn acts of violence perpetrated by Muslims. When is the last time that you have seen white priests being pressured to go on television to denounce violence by the KKK in order to show that “not all Christians” are like that? How long would a Muslim group, with as violent a record as the KKK, be allowed to operate freely before it was shut down? Clearly racism, as much as oil, fuels the War on Terror.
White Christians and Jews rarely have to worry that an undercover agent or informant has infiltrated their churches, student organizations or neighborhoods.
FBI data from 1980 to 2005 show that Jewish terrorists committed 7 percent of the acts of terrorism within the United States, which was more than the 6 percent committed by Islamist extremists. This statistic is made even more remarkable by the fact that the FBI drastically undercounts instances of terrorism perpetrated by Jewish extremists because of institutional racial double standards. How many Americans can name the infamous Jewish Defense League or Jewish Armed Resistance, both terror groups that have committed more acts of terror than their Muslim counterparts?
The infamous Jewish Defense League has been operating in the U.S. for over half a century. A Department of Energy report on terror threats to nuclear facilities notes that “for more than a decade, the Jewish Defense League has been one of the most active terrorist groups in the United States.” Unbeknown to many Americans, these Jewish extremists have mail-bombed police, targeted UN ambassadors, and firebombed civilians at a Symphony Orchestra performance.
An FBI report on the death of Tupac Shakur, the iconic rapper, suggests that the Jewish Defense League may have been involved in the rapper’s murder. The FBI proved that the Jewish terror group was extorting Tupac and several other famous musicians via death threats. “The scheme involves (name redacted) and other subjects making telephonic death threats to the rap star…Subjects then intercede by contacting the victim and offering protection for a fee. The victim and their family are taken to a ‘safe haven’, usually a private estate, and are protected by gun-toting body guards associated with the Jewish Defense League”.
If the U.S. Government is serious about combating domestic terror and mass shootings, the FBI’s statistics suggest that it should be aggressively surveilling white males. The simple fact that U.S. law enforcement has not infiltrated and spied on conservative Christian communities to disrupt violent rightwing extremism confirms what Muslims in American know in their bones: to worship Allah is to be suspect.
Muslim-Americans increasingly feel as though they are living in a totalitarian police state with worsening harassment, profiling and surveillance by the state. Researcher Arun Kundnani has shown how the FBI has 1 counterterrorism spy for every 94 Muslims in the US, which, approaches totalitarian East Germany’s infamous spy agency Stasi’s ratio of 1 spy for every 66 citizens.
Muslim-Americans are not only facing increasing oppression from the state, they are also facing growing prejudice from citizens in the US, as hate crimes and civil liberty violations against Muslims continue to rise. A recent Pew Forum Poll established that Muslims are by far the most disliked minority in America. According to FBI statistics, anti-Muslim hate crimes soared by an astounding 50 percent last year. Muslims constitute 1 percent of the U.S. population, but they are 13 percent of the victims of religious-based hate crimes. Clearly, Muslims at home and abroad are disproportionately the victims of terrorism. Politicians deliberately spread Islamophobia in order to justify escalating wars abroad and a growing surveillance state at home.
The War on Terror has cost $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, calculates Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
In 2007, a politician who was vehemently against the high cost of the War on Terror highlighted the infinite array of alternative uses of the funds to a town hall meeting in Iowa: “For those living in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District the cost of the war in Iraq will be $756.6 million through 2007. This total is equivalent to providing health care for 238,693 adults and 339,808 children; equipping 851,323 homes with renewable electricity; hiring 17,489 elementary school teachers; offering 134,819 scholarships for university students; creating 113,832 Head Start places for children, building 89 new primary schools; recruiting 18,745 public safety officers; and hiring 12,676 port container inspectors.”
The politician who uttered these words is none other than the then Senator Obama, who is now ironically Presiding over the most expensive war in history, and spending trillions abroad instead of helping citizens at home.
In order to understand why America is choosing to spend trillions of dollars on the exaggerated threat of Muslim extremism, one has to understand who benefits from the spending. The War on Terror is unwinnable; the war profiteers, politicians and oilmen that benefit from the war designed it so.
Clearly, there is a costly and unhealthy obsession among U.S. society and law enforcement, with preventing violence perpetrated by American Muslims, one that ignores both the real threat of far right extremism and the economic needs of American citizens.
Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org