Creation of a Data Base of U.S. Extremist Crime, 1990-2005
The Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) uncovered over 4,000 criminal incidents committed by far-right extremists. These crimes range in important ways, such as the level of violence imposed on victims, number of suspects involved, and the motivational circumstances underlying each incident. For example, far-right extremist crimes include hate crimes, attacks on abortion providers, and foiled terrorist plots, as well as financial crimes and cases involving illegal firearms and other weapons.
The research team coded the most serious crimes: homicides, attempted homicides, & incidents where the suspect was killed or committed suicide.
(1) 275+ homicide incidents committed by at least one far-rightist
- Number of homicides vary temporally: 1991 & 2003: 9 incidents; 1999: 23 incidents
- 120 (44%) homicide incidents were ideologically motivated
- 18 homicide incidents in detention facilities
- 57% of incidents were committed with guns. Only 2% of homicides involved explosives (includes IEDs). However, included in the ECDB are a substantial number of cases where suspects were arrested with explosives/weapons & plots that were foiled due to effective law enforcement responses. Because no violence occurred these events have not yet been coded.
- 462 of 628 (74%) suspects for homicide incidents were far-right, while the remainder of suspects were acting in concert with far-right.
- 82% of far-right suspects were White; 16% unknown (likely White); 2% non-White
- 91% of far-right suspects were male; 6% female; 3% unknown
- 67% of far-right suspects were 30 or younger; 33% were older than 30 years old
- 35% White; 40% unknown (many likely White); 16% Black; 9% other minority
- 91% male, 6% female, 3% unknown
- Average age 36 (excluding the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing)
- Only 2 of 37 incidents involved federal agents
- 90% of incidents involved guns
- Less than 30% of the 54 far-right suspects were members of formal groups (instead most were lone wolves or acting informally with others)
- 22% of incidents involved traffic stops; Other incidents involved routine calls for service (e.g., domestic dispute): Vast majority of incidents were unplanned
- 113 of 165 (68%) suspects for attempted homicide incidents were far-right
- 125 attempted homicide victims
(2) 13 suicide missions that killed 33 people
(3) 522 homicide victims, 354 excluding 1995 attack in Oklahoma City
(4) From 1/1/90 to 6/30/09 at least 49 law enforcement (including 6 federal, 36 state, & local police, 3 correctional officers, 3 private security officers & 1 judge) were killed by at least one far-right extremist in at least 37 incidents.
(5) 93 attempted homicide incidents (UCR’s Hierarchy rule employed)
(6) 32 solicitation to commit homicide or conspiracy to commit homicide incidents
(7) 22 far-right suspects killed by law enforcement
(8) 38 far-right suspects committed suicide
The ECDB was developed in 3 stages:
I. Identifying Crimes
Five types of sources were used to identify crimes:
1. Existing databases (E.g., GTD; Monterey; RAND)
2. Official sources - Congressional hearings, ATF, IRS, DOJ (press releases & links to court docs)
3. Scholarly & journalist accounts - Systematic literature review (320 studies)
4. Watch-group reports (E.g., ADL, SPLC, etc)
5. Systematic Media searches (E.g., ‘skinhead & crime,’ etc.)
2. Searching Crimes
Each identified criminal incident was assigned to a specific researcher who searched 22 web-based search engines to uncover all publicly available materials on it:
(1) Lexis-Nexis; (2) Proquest; (3) Yahoo; (4) Google; (5) Copernic; (6) News Library; (7) Infotrac; (8) Google Scholar; (9) Amazon; (10) Google U.S. Government; (11) Federation of American Scientists; (12) Google Videos; (13) Center for the Study of Intelligence; (14) Surf Wax; (15) Dogpile; (16) Mamma; (17) Librarians' Internet Index; (18) Scirus; (19) All the Web; (20) Google News; (21) Google Blog; and (22) Homeland Security Digital Library
Uncovered open source information includes: Media reports; Government documents; Court records (injunctions, affidavits, indictments, appellate decisions); Movement materials; Books; Scholarly accounts; Videos; Blogs; Opinion pieces.
Amount & quality of information varies by case, however more information on homicide incidents and other violent crimes is usually publicly available.
(3) Coding Cases
We began coding violent incidents- homicides, attempted homicides (those formally charged as so), suspect deaths/suicides. Each incident case assigned to a specific coder.
We have 5 codebooks (incident, suspect, victim, group, victims & assessment of the quality of the open source information that we code in ACCESS) that contain over 350 variables considered important in prior literature.
Coders first review the search files to decide how many incidents, suspects & victims to code. They next conduct their own search to insure original search did not miss important information. They also search 4 additional engines (to uncover prior & subsequent crimes): (i) Vinelink; (ii) The Inmate Locator; (iii) Individual State Department of Corrections (DOCs); (iv) Blackbookonline.info. Next, the coder reviews the open source information to fill in values in the ACCESS codebooks.
After their initial coding of incidents, suspects & victims, coders conduct additional targeted open source searches to fill in missing values.