The number of U.S. Muslims accused in terror plots dropped by more than half in 2010, according to a new report by a professor with the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
The report notes that 20 American Muslims were suspects in terror plots last year, whereas 47 were suspects in 2009. The 2009 spike, as the Associated Press reports was due mainly to a large number of Somali-Americans who tried to join Somalia’s al-Shabab militant movement.
In all, there were five American Muslim terror suspects who made any effort to carry out their plans, including the individual who tried to set off a bomb in Times Square and others who joined militant movements overseas.
“It may be useful to put these figures in perspective,” Professor Charles Kurzman of the UNC’s Department of Sociology writes in the report. “Since 9/11, there have been approximately 150,000 murders in the United States, more than 15,000 per year. There were also more than 20 terrorist plots by non Muslims in the United States in 2010, including attacks by Joseph Stack, who flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas; Larry Eugene North, who is suspected of placing bombs in mailboxes across eastern Texas; and George Jakubec, who was accused of manufacturing explosives in his home in Escondido, California.”
“Still, with Muslims comprising about 1 percent of the American population, it is clear that Muslims are engaging in terrorism at a greater rate than non-Muslims — though at a low level compared with overall violence in the United States,” he writes.
The reports comes as Rep. Peter King (D-NY) forges ahead with his plan to hold hearings on the radicalization of Muslims over the objections of civil rights groups and Democratic members of the Homeland Security Committee.
“Muslim-American terrorism makes news,” Kurzman writes. “Out of the thousands of acts of violence that occur in the United States each year, an efficient system of government prosecution and media coverage brings Muslim-American terrorism suspects to national attention, creating the impression — perhaps unintentionally — that Muslim-American terrorism is more prevalent than it really is.”
“Upturns in the pace of Muslim-American terrorism are particularly newsworthy, and have driven much public debate over the past two years,” he writes. “This report documents a downturn in the pace of Muslim-American terrorism — it remains to be seen whether this is accorded a similar level of attention, and whether the level of public concern will ratchet downward along with the number of terrorism suspects.”