A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Far-right Violence in the United States: 1990-2010

Far-right Violence in the United States: 1990-2010

August 8, 2012

Following the 5 August 2012 shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, START researchers compiled background information from the United States Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) on ideologically motivated far-right violence in the United States, generally, and far-right extremist crimes related to religion and religious institutions, specifically.

Although the ECDB includes crimes committed by individuals with varying ideologies, this report focuses exclusively on far-right violence and crime due to initial reporting that the alleged perpetrator in Oak Creek was motivated by either a racist skin-head or white supremacist ideology. Should additional information about the ideological motivation for the attack confirm the initial reporting, this factsheet may help contextualize the event.

START's Extremist Crime Database includes a systematic collection of open-source data on financial and violent criminal behavior in the United States associated with far-right extremists, far-left extremists, and al-Qaida-inspired and associated extremists. The ECDB does not exclusively focus on terrorist attacks, rather it records criminal incidents committed by extremist groups or their supporters. These crimes range in important ways, such as the level of violence imposed on victims, number of suspects involved and the motivations underlying each incident.

For example, extremist crimes include ideologically and non-ideologically motivated homicides, financial crimes and cases involving foiled plots. The conduct of a criminal act is an inclusion criterion in this dataset; individuals are not included in this dataset absent criminal activity. The use of broad ideological categories in this research does not suggest that an individual or group sharing one or more of these beliefs is likely to be an extremist criminal.


Between 1990 and 2010 there were 145 ideologically motivated homicide incidents committed by far-right extremists in the United States. Of those incidents:

  • Including the Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed 168 individuals, far-right extremists killed 348 individuals during ideologically motivated homicide events between 1990 and 2010. Excluding that attack, far-right extremists killed 180 individuals between 1990 and 2010.
  • 58 percent of the victims of ideologically motivated far-right violence were killed by perpetrators using firearms.
  • More than half of the victims of far-right violence were targeted because they were racial/ethnic minorities.
  • 37 percent of these homicide incidents were perpetrated by a lone individual.
  • 32 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty by far-right extremists during ideologically motivated attacks. In addition, corrections officers, private security guards, and a judge have been killed during ideologically motivated attacks.
  • For 10 percent of perpetrators, there was evidence that they expected to be killed or captured while committing their crimes.
  • Almost 5 percent of perpetrators were killed by law enforcement during the commission of their crimes.

START's Far-right Violence in the United States: 1990-2010 Report can be found at http://www.start.umd.edu/start/publications/br/ECDB_FarRight_FactSheet.pdf.