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

Addressing the Myths of Terrorism in America


In the aftermath of 9/11, the intersection of sensational media coverage, public fears, and political motivations has contributed to misconceptions about the nature of terrorism and the perpetrators of extremist violence. The current study uses data from the Extremist Crime Database and Global Terrorism Database to address the myths of terrorism in the United States. We examine jihadist-inspired, far-right, and far-left incidents to provide an empirical critique of turn of the century popular discourse that suggests terrorism (1) incidents are increasing, (2) fatalities and injuries are increasing, and is committed by (3) internationally based, (4) jihadist-inspired extremists, (5) of Arab decent, (6) working in organized groups. The results highlight the reality of the terrorism problem finding incidents are decreasing and often involve no deaths or injuries. Additionally, terrorists are more often domestic-based, White, far-right extremists, acting alone. We conclude with a discussion of findings and implications for public knowledge and policy responses to terrorism and extremist violence.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Silva, Jason R., Celinet Duran, Joshua D. Freilich, and Steven M. Chermak. 2019. "Addressing the Myths of Terrorism in America." International Criminal Justice Review (March). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1057567719833139

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