81 Muslim-Americans involved in violent extremist plots in 2015, highest since 9/11

Posters of the 14 people killed are displayed on stage during a vigil for San Bernardino County employees after the shooting in San Bernardino, California December 7, 2015.Reuters

The number of Muslim-Americans involved in violent extremist plots totalled 81 last year, the highest since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, according to a new report.

Charles Kurzman, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, released his own seventh annual report on Muslim-American extremism.

The report said the total number of Muslim-Americans involved in violent extremism since 2001 totalled 344 or about 26 per year, according to CBN.

Five plotters engaged in violence in the U.S. in 2015, killing 19 people and raising the total since 9/11 to 69 fatalities.

Over the same period, more than 220,000 Americans were murdered, the report by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security read.

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Last year, 134 Americans were killed in mass shootings.

Kurzman said the overall threat of Muslim-Americans to public safety is exaggerated.

"Each year since 2010 when I began doing this report, I try to remind readers ... that among the threats to public safety that Americans face year in and year out, Islamic terrorism has played a very small role," Kurzman told Religion News Service. "Even the numbers of disrupted plots remain much lower than the public debate would lead us to believe. And yet it remains the focus of so much of the security discourse in American politics."

Three-quarters of the plots involving 81 Muslim-Americans in violent extremism occurred in the first half of 2015 and the rest in the second half.

The drop-off was overshadowed by the shootings in San Bernardino, California last December which killed 14.

Kurzman said one factor in the drop-off may have been the decision by the Turkish government in 2015 to restrict travel to Syria through Turkey. Another is that the U.S. government's stepped-up efforts to arrest Americans who appeared to be planning to travel to Syria.

The report added that 41 Muslim-Americans travelled to join militants in Syria since 2012, adding that the pace of travel peaked in 2014 and declined last year.

"The period of accelerating radicalisation appears to have passed," Kurzman said.

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