According to a new report published by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), hate crimes are more likely to occur in the wake of terrorist attacks, but this relationship is specific to particular types of terrorism and hate crime.
The researchers found no evidence that the occurrence or escalation of hate crimes served as an indicator or warning sign of future terrorist attacks. In examining the more than 500 terrorist attacks occurring between 1992 and 2008 in the United States, the researchers found that in the weeks following a terrorist attack, the number of anti-minority hate crimes increased if the attacks were made against symbols of core American values (such as the Pentagon) or perpetrated by groups with a religious motivation.
"It is possible that some hate crimes constitute a form of 'vicarious retribution' in which perpetrators seek retribution against members of a group that they view as responsible for the act of terrorism," said Kathleen Deloughery, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy at the University at Albany, SUNY.
"This pattern was particularly evident following the 9/11 attacks. In fact, much of the association between hate crime and terrorism is attributable to 9/11."
The dataset shows anti-Arab and anti-Islamic hate crimes increased dramatically following the 9/11 attacks. There was also a short-term spike in hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. immediately following initial incorrect reports that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing might have been perpetrated by violent Islamists.
The research team, Deloughery and Victor Asal, Ryan King and R. Karl Rethemeyer, also evaluated whether some violent incidents are "double counted" as terrorist acts and hate crimes. They determined that such cases of double counting were rare and estimated that between 3 and 5.3 percent of the terrorist attacks included in the Global Terrorism Database are duplicated in the FBI hate crime statistics.