Salafi-Jihadists, Not White Supremacists, Still Pose America's Greatest Terror Threat

By Rogan, Tom | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, September 11, 2020 | Go to article overview

Salafi-Jihadists, Not White Supremacists, Still Pose America's Greatest Terror Threat


Rogan, Tom, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Foreign terrorist organizations and those they inspire on American soil continue to pose the most serious threat of high lethality and high economic-social effect attacks against the nation. This threat is more serious than that posed by domestic white supremacist organizations.

I note this in light of the many pundits who claim that the opposite is true. They say that Salafi-Jihadism, the encompassing ideology of al Qaeda and the Islamic State, is today a lesser threat vector than violent white supremacy movements. Take New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Marking the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Friday, Krugman argued that "it's now clear that the real threat to America comes not from foreign terrorists but from home-grown white supremacists. But you know what? That was true even in 2001."

That assessment was and remains incorrect.

For a start, while it is true that lone wolf actors presently pose the primary threat to the homeland, inspired jihadists with near-term violent agendas pose the greatest threat of mass casualty attacks. White supremacist mass casualty plans are rarer than with Salafi-Jihadists and tend to prioritize individual assassination plots and symbolic harassment. More on that in a moment.

But first, it's crucial you don't misunderstand me here. It is manifestly true that violent white supremacists represent a serious and growing terrorist challenge. As I noted during the early days of this year's Black Lives Matter protests, white supremacist groups and individuals plotted terrorist attacks on groups of innocent people. Primarily motivated by Nazi ideological understandings of racial inferiority and reciprocal conspiracies, white supremacist organizations seek to segregate, subjugate, or eliminate those they see as parasitical invaders in America — most notably, black people in the United States. Where we look to the Holocaust and Nazi tyranny with anger and disgust, white supremacists see Adolf Hitler as a visionary whose ambitions will, one way or another, ultimately find fulfillment. Of course, Hitler was actually, and quite literally, a complete idiot. Still, white supremacy finds continued support for the same basic reason that Salafi-Jihadism finds support.

Namely, in its offering of a higher cause for individuals who find their lives lacking purpose or deserved fulfillment. This dynamic explains why so many terrorists in Europe tend to be well educated but professionally unsuccessful. They feel they are owed something and destined for something more. Terrorism gives them that cause. Violent white supremacy offers its supporters a similar purpose, explaining that personal failings are not actually personal at all. Rather, to them, these failings are the consequence of an unjust conspiracy. White supremacy also offers a critical social and security component in its appeal paradigm. Related criminal networks are saturated in prisons across the nation, and the opportunity to meet "brothers" outside to drink, socialize, and rant about an American restoration is appealing to some folks. It's worth noting that the ranting factor has a positive to the rest of us. For one, it attracts law enforcement attention to those promising violence (check out websites such as Stormfront). …

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