Report finds that radical American Muslims are not terribly prevalent. Or competent.

Color me shocked.

Professor Charles Kurzman, of the  Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at the University of North Carolina, released a report Wednesday that found that radicalization among Muslim-Americans is “relatively low,” and has been on the decrease since 9/11.

Kurzman also points out that many of the suspects in 2011 “appeared to have been limited in competence.” In one arrest of a Muslim-American for terrorism-related charges, for example, Emerson Begolly, “a 21-year-old former white supremacist who converted to Islam and posted violent-sounding material on the Internet” was tricked by his mother into meeting with FBI agents outside of a restaurant. He then tried fight them off by biting them. In another case, on his way to attack a local Shia mosque, Roger Stockham bragged about the his plan to a bartender when he stopped in to a bar for a drink.

“The limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim- American terrorism would escalate,” the report concludes. “The spike in terrorism cases in 2009 renewed these concerns, as have repeated warnings from U.S. government officials about a possible surge in homegrown Islamic terrorism. The predicted surge has not materialized.”

I wish I had a job that would justify me doing a comparative study of all the kinds of extremist violence perpetrated in this country on an annual basis. I’d like to see how, for instance, the 1 ,002 hate groups tracked by the Southern Law Povery Center compare to extremist American Muslims (individuals or organizations).

If you’d like to know what most Muslims (American and non-) think about such extremism, I gathered some statistics and statements here (spoiler alert! They’re pretty solidly against it).

h/t TPMMuckraker



  1. Bravo – I am going to reproduce that material in various forms. By collating and producing this stuff, Emily, you provide an important and genuine service to the world. Please forgive in advance my blatant plaigiarism, which will be duly credited to you.(It always is.) And feel free to reproduce anything on my blog you ever find useful. As I have burbled admiringly before, I am profoundly impressed with your work. It’s a shame you are on the other side of the planet, I’d love to buy you and yours dinner to celebrate the work you do.

  2. dmf

     /  February 9, 2012

    not sure that statistics can penetrate paranoia but good to check one’s own biases when one can.

  3. caoil

     /  February 9, 2012

    Thank you for pointing to this, Emily. Imma share it on FB later.

    But I have to admit that I actually laughed at my desk at “He then tried fight them off by biting them.”

    • I know…!

      Well, and honestly, if these are your “radical Muslims” (a former white supremacist? A guy stopping for a drink on his way to attack other Muslims?), I’d say you’re really dealing with “radically troubled people who were searching for a name to call their trouble.”

  4. watson42

     /  February 9, 2012

    That list of tracked hate groups is pretty enlightening. I think I was most surprised by the number of formal anti-gay groups. And that the Ku Klux Klan has organization in every state.
    Unfortunately, it looks like the FBI doesn’t publicly list the hate groups that they track. I’d be interested to see how the government defines hate group and those they deem worthy of tracking.

  5. Lise

     /  February 15, 2012

    Thanks for posting this report – well, thanks for posting news of this report. I guess a few clicks with the magic box got me to the pdf, which I then posted a link to on my own FB page. I love this news. I love that it confirmed what I hoped would happen here. Doesn’t always go the way one hopes, but this one did. Islam is a religion of peace. Last night I watched The Interrupters on Frontline. One of the people they profiled is Ameenah Matthews, a former gang enforcer, daughter of Jeff Fort. She is now a peacemaker on the south side of Chicago. She is also a Muslim, and her husband leads a community of Muslims. I have never seen a better witness for Islam than these people. They live a life of personal peace, they teach peace, they bring peace to a community sick with violence.

    And BTW, Yolly, I’m Emily’s sister, so that offer of dinner on the other side of the world? We’re all in.