Post-9/11 Jihadist Attacks in the U.S.

31 Jul

The following is a list of Jihadist-inspired terrorism attacks inside the U.S. since 9/11/01. The list excludes foiled attempts, but includes failed attempts. I will separately endeavor to prepare a list of foiled attacks at a later period.[1] I define failed attacks as those for which an individual initiated the sequence of attacking, but was unsuccessful in achieving their full range of objectives. I define foiled attacks as those for which an individual hadn’t had an opportunity to initiate the sequence of attacking, but for which they had demonstrated an intention (and possibly coupled with the capability) to do so. All attack information comes from open sources and is verifiable by simple internet searches. Any disputation of facts is welcome.

As some may notice, the list also excludes other forms of domestic terrorism (actual, failed and foiled). Another word of caution for using this short dataset is that affiliation with a specific transnational Jihadist organization can sometimes be difficult to discern. Anyone wishing to research organizational affiliation, should either consult at least two corroborating open sources, or read the official indictments attending any subsequent prosecution.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF):

A summary glance at the data reveals that from December 2001 through June 2017 (the period covered herein):

  • 111 people have been killed and 461 have been wounded.
  • 5 attacks list two attackers, for a total of 36 suspects
  • 33 out of the 36 suspects (92%) were American citizens at the time they conducted their assault. The database does not, however, record naturalized citizens’ countries of origin.
  • Chosen weapons in each attack included and rate of killed/wounded:
    • 3 exclusively using explosives (0 killed)
    • 3 using a combination of explosives and firearms (18 killed/316 wounded)
    • 10 exclusively using firearms (88 killed/105 wounded)
    • 10 exclusively using knives[2] (5 killed/14 wounded)
    • 1 exclusively using a vehicle (0 killed/9 wounded)
    • 2 using a combination of vehicle and knife (0 killed/17 wounded)
  • Although firearms alone killed the most (80%) and explosives alone killed the least (0%), the most violent, casualty-producing combination seems to have been explosives with firearms, representing 10% of the attacks, with 16% killed and 68% wounded.
Attack Graphic

Domestic Attack Data

Concluding Analytical Remarks

One conclusion that could readily be drawn is that Jihadist-inspired attacks may be affiliated with an organization per se, however, the attackers don’t always seem to express a clear affiliation. Despite individual allegiances to organized external terrorist groups, each attacker appears to have adhered to a Jihadist ideology. As the Islamic State’s power profile dwindles, as did al-Qa’ida’s in the past, there is reason to believe that although it may reduce some of the entity’s cyber presence, it is likely not going to eliminate Jihadist attacks.

I’d like to invite any serious analyst who seeks to collaborate in constructing an open-source, publicly available, database of foiled attacks to join me in that endeavor. Additionally, anyone who is presently working on a terrorism project that desires review, assistance, editing, or a contributing author is welcome to reach out to me or my associates at TRAC Intelligence, LLC.

[1] As certain names will appear in a separate database, they are deliberately being excluded here. For instance, two separate attacks connected to the June 2015 arrests of Munther Saleh, Imran Rabbani and Fareed Mumuni, also resulted in the arrests of Nader Saadeh, Aala Saadeh and Samuel Rahamin Topaz. The latter three did not initiate the sequence of attacking and hence would appear in a “foiled attack” database.

[2] Edged weapons are included in the “knives” category for the sake of convenience.

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