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

Major update to PIRUS dataset adds 955 U.S. subjects from 2019-2021

START releases analysis of new Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) data

START’s Radicalization and Disengagement research team has launched a major update to the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) dataset, adding 955 subjects who were charged with committing extremist crimes in the U.S. from 2019-2021.

This update shows a sharp increase in crimes committed by offenders affiliated with far-right groups and movements. For instance, in 2015, when extremism inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was at its peak, far-right subjects made up just 32.2% of the offenders included in the data. In 2021, nearly 90% of the offenders included in PIRUS were affiliated with the extremist far-right—the highest percentage of any year recorded in the database.

PIRUS is a de-identified cross-sectional, quantitative dataset of individuals in the United States who radicalized to the point of violent or non-violent ideologically motivated criminal activity, or ideologically motivated association with a foreign or domestic extremist organization from 1948 to 2018. The PIRUS dataset was coded using entirely open-source material. The dataset is not limited to a single ideological category, and includes individuals representing far-right, far-left, Islamist, and single-issue ideologies.

An analysis of the updated data shows:

  • From 2019 to 2021, 75% of the 20 most criminally active groups and movements in the United States came from the extremist far-right. Seven of the top 20 groups were white supremacist organizations.
  • From 2019 to 2021, more U.S. extremist offenders were connected to the QAnon conspiracy theory than any other extremist group or movement. However, most of these offenders were arrested in 2021 for participating in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.
  • Offenders associated with the Boogaloo Movement were the most active between 2019-2021 when the Capitol attack is removed from consideration.
  • An analysis of the characteristics of the offenders in PIRUS shows that on average, far-right extremists tend to be older, have lower rates of college experience, and higher rates of military experience and pre-radicalization crime than other types of extremists.
  • Far-left extremists tend to be young and well educated and are significantly more likely to be female than far-right, Islamist, or single-issue extremists.
  • Islamist extremists tend to be young and male and show high rates of internet radicalization.
  • Single-Issue extremists are comparable to their far-right counterparts on measures of age, gender, and military service, but tend to be better educated and have lower overall rates of pre-radicalization crime.

You can read the research team’s full analysis here and can access the full dataset on START’s website here.

Follow START’s Radicalization and Disengagement research team on Twitter at @RaD_UMD to stay updated on new developments with the PIRUS dataset. Please direct any media inquiries to Deanne Winslett, START Communications and Transition Manager, at winslett@umd.edu.