More Muslim-Americans involved in violent extremism in 2015 than any year since 9/11

by Tobin Perry |

(Reuters)Tashfeen Malik, (L), and Syed Farook are pictured passing through Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in this July 27, 2014 handout photo obtained by Reuters December 8, 2015. U.S.-born Farook, 28, and his spouse, Malik, a native of Pakistan who lived in Saudi Arabia for more than 20 years, died in a shootout with police hours after a December 2, 2015 attack on a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center social services agency in San Bernardino, Calif.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Christian Examiner)—More Muslim-Americans were involved in violent extremism in 2015 than any other year since 9/11, says a University of North Carolina sociology professor.

"Even the numbers of disrupted plots remain much lower than the public debate would lead us to believe. And yet it remains the focus of so much of the security discourse in American politics."
- Charles Kurzman

In his report, "Muslim American Involvement with Violent Extremism" Charles Kurzman asserts that 81 Muslim-Americans were associated with violent extremism in 2015—more than double the total of 2014. The total number of Muslim-Americans involved in violent extremism since 9/11 is 344, an average of 26 per year.

The report, released earlier this week, is the seventh annual report released by Kurzman.

Despite the increase in Muslim-American involvement in terrorism during 2015, Kurzman told Religion News Service that the threat posed by Muslim extremism has been "exaggerated."

"The demonization of Muslim-Americans in some American social and political spheres has created a hostile climate far out of scale with the actual number of Muslim-Americans involved in violence," Kurzman told RNS.

To put the statistics in perspective, Kurzman said more than 220,000 Americans have been murdered since 9/11. Only 134 of those people were murdered during mass shootings. He noted that last year's 19 fatalities related to Islamic extremism in the United States were perpetrated by three people.

"Even the numbers of disrupted plots remain much lower than the public debate would lead us to believe," Kurzman said. "And yet it remains the focus of so much of the security discourse in American politics."

Three quarters of the 81 Americans associated with Islamic extremism in 2015 were arrested or identified in the first half of the year.

The report also stated that 41 Muslim-Americans have traveled to Syria since 2011 to join the work of the Islamic State. Twenty of those Americans have died, 16 are still in Syria and five were arrested upon their return to the United States. A total of 16 of these 41 Muslims traveled to Syria in 2014. Only two did so in 2015. The report also said that 23 Muslim-Americans were arrested in 2015 for allegedly planning to travel to Syria. Only 13 were arrested for that the previous year.

Kurzman says he used social media postings, media reports and court records to determine those numbers.