A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

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

START Researchers on Recent Shooting at the Pentagon


START Researchers on Recent Shooting at the Pentagon

March 6, 2010

On the evening of March 4,2010, a lone gunman attempted to launch an attack on the Pentagon, outside of Washington, D.C. The alleged gunman, John Patrick Bedell, was killed after he opened fire on police officers working at the Pentagon, two of whom were injured in the attack. In the wake of this incident--as well as recent incidents at Ft. Hood (Texas) and an attack on an IRS office in Austin--the Washington Post explored whether the United States is experiencing a surge in violent anti-government activity and terrorism.

This story features data and analysis from START researchers Joshua D. Freilich and Steven Chermak, directors of the U.S. Extremist Crime Data Base, sponsored by START.

The article notes: "Although concern about anti-government groups has grown, the number of ideologically motivated attacks by extremists that led to deaths in the United States has not. "Between 1990 and 2009, there were about 120 attacks in the United States by far-right extremists that led to deaths, according to a study funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The number of incidents has hovered around three per year since 2002, down from an average of eight annually from 1990 to 2001 and a peak of 16 in 1999, according to the U.S. Extremist Crime Data Base.

"About 45 percent of incidents were motivated by white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant or other racist ideologies, and 15 percent by extreme anti-government views, the top two categories, according to researchers Joshua D. Freilich of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York and Steven M. Chermak of Michigan State University."