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When Did Islam Trademark Terrorism?

The False Perception

First, the accusation was: “All Muslims are terrorists.” When the bigots who made this statement realized no one in their right mind would believe that all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world could be terrorists, they reversed their statement to sound more objective and fair: “All Muslims may not be terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslims.” Really?

Someone sympathetic to Islam might respond with an example or two about Timothy McVeigh and the KKK. Yet, the average American will continue to watch the mainstream media day in, day out and see pictures of “Muslim terrorists” flashed across the screen or spoken about for hours on the radio. Here are some hard facts to make it clear that every perception is not a reality.

The Facts

According to the FBI database, there have been 318 terrorist incidents in the US from 1980-2005. That includes 209 bombings and 43 arsons. Out of those incidents, 42% were committed by Latino groups, 24% by Extreme Left Wing groups, 7% by Jewish Extremists, 6% by Muslim Extremists, and 5% by Communists. 1

A RAND Corporation [funded by the U.S. government] report titled “Would-be Warriors” reveals some very interesting facts:

  1. Not a single U.S. civilian has been killed by Muslim extremists since Sept 11, 2001.
  2. Only 3 out of 83 acts of terrorism between 9/11 and 2009 were done by Muslim extremists. Most were by animal rights and environmental activists.
  3. There was more terrorism in the 1970s than the 21st century. There were over 60 terrorist incidents per year on U.S. soil, most of them being bombings. That’s 15 – 20 times more terrorism than post 9/11.

Europol’s report titled “EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report” showed that 0.4% of terrorist attacks from 2006-2008 were committed by Muslim extremists. That means 99.6% of terrorist attacks were by non-Muslims, most of which were separatists and leftists.

U.S. Terrorist Organizations

If you were asked to name five major terrorist organizations in the US, how many could you name besides al-Qaeda? Most people couldn’t name more than one. So here are some to help you balance the distorted view that the media feeds you with:

  • Animal Liberation Front: Is known for sabotaging animal testing facilities, etc. The FBI explicitly said that ALF is the “leading domestic terrorist threat.”
  • Alpha 66 and Omega 7: Cuban exiles opposed to anyone who takes a moderate approach to Castro. They are responsible for many bombings.
  • Army of God: Anti-abortion and anti-gay. Known for bombing at least two abortion clinics, a lesbian nightclub, and the Summer Olympics in 1996. They believe that Anglo-Saxons are the only true children of God.
  • Aryan Nations: A white nationalist, neo-Nazi, and Christian Identity group. The RAND Corporation described it as the “first truly nationwide terrorist network.”
  • Black Liberation Army: They carried out a series of bombings, robberies, and prison breaks.
  • The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord: Another Christian Identity organization.
  • Earth Liberation Front: Eco-terrorist group. The FBI in March 2001 said that it is the number one domestic terrorist threat.
  • Jewish Defense League: Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, they executed at least 15 terrorist attacks in the U.S. [more than al-Qaeda] and are responsible for at least 60 bombings.
  • Ku Klux Klan: A white supremacist, anti-Communist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic group.
  • Militia Movement: An anti-government movement. One common tactic is to explode pipe bombs at government facilities. They have about 20,000-60,000 members in the U.S.
  • Phineas Priesthood: Another Christian Identity movement that is against interracial intercourse, homosexuality, abortion, and multiculturalism.
  • Symbionese Liberation Army: A far left organization.
  • United Freedom Front: A Marxist organization responsible for at least 20 bombings and 9 bank robberies.
  • The Weather Underground: A far left organization responsible for at least 45 bombings between 1970 – 1977.
  • Ejercito Popular Boricua [Boricua People’s Army]: They have been demanding independence of Puerto Rico from U.S. imperialism.
  • New World Liberation Front: A far-left organization responsible for at least 70 bombings in the Bay Area alone.

International Terrorist Organizations

Of course, terrorism is not only an American phenomenon, but exists worldwide. Here are some examples abroad:

  • Aum Shinrikyo: Japan. A new religious movement responsible for the 1995 Sarin Nerve Gas attacks in the Tokyo subway.
  • All Tripura Tiger Force: India. Their goal is to expel all immigrants of Tripura. 90% of members are Hindu and 10% are Christian.
  • Babbar Khalsa: India/Canada. A Sikh religious organization that blew up a 747 jet in 1985 killing 329 people [including 280 Canadian citizens].
  • Communist Party of India (Maoist): Prime Minister Singh said that they are “the single biggest security challenge ever faced by our country”. They have killed over a thousand people.
  • Provisional Irish Republican Army: Ireland. They have killed over 1800 people.
  • ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom): Spain/France. They have killed almost a thousand people.
  • Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK): Turkey. A Socialist/Nationalist party demanding independence.
  • New Peoples Army: Philippines. A Communist organization.
  • National Liberation Front of Corsica: France. A separatist organization.
  • Justice Commandos Against Armenian Genocide: They have been trying to force Turkey to admit to the historical Armenian genocide. Responsible for at least 23 terrorist attacks.

Notable U.S. Terrorist Attacks

The following is a very brief list of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to make it clear that American terrorism is as American as cherry pie.

  • 1910: Bombing of the L.A. Times Building by James and John McNamara who wanted to unionize the paper.
  • 1920: Wall Street bombing by followers of Luigi Galleani with 100 pounds of dynamite that killed 38 people and injured 400.
  • 1927: Bath, Michigan Bombings by Andrew Kehoe who was angry over taxes. He set off three bombs killing 45 people [including 38 students].
  • 1971: Bombing of the U.S. Capitol Building by the Weather Underground in protest against the U.S. invasion of Laos.
  • 1972: Bombing of the Pentagon by the Weather Underground in retaliation for the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi.
  • 1975: Bombing of the Department of State Building by the Weather Underground in response to war escalation in Vietnam.
  • 1976: Hijacking of Cubana Flight 455 by CIA-linked Cuban exiles who killed all 73 people on board.
  • 1978-1995: Unabomber Attacks by Ted Kaczynski who sent letterbombs to academics and other influential people.
  • 1995: Oklahoma City Bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols who killed 168 people.
  • 1996: Centennial Olympic Park Bombing by Eric Robert Rudolph for which President Clinton called “an evil act of terror”. This was the largest pipe bomb in U.S. history.
  • 2001: Anthrax Attacks by Bruce Edwards Ivins.
  • 2007: Virginia Tech Massacre by Seung-Hui Cho who killed 32 people. He likened himself to Jesus Christ and expressed his hatred of the rich.
  • 2010: Austin IRS Attack by Andrew Joseph Stack who flew an airplane into the IRS building because he was mad at the government.
  • 2011: Tucson Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords where Jared Lee Loughner shot nineteen people.

Image is Everything

The only statistics that are missing is the amount of media coverage per terrorist incident or group. It shouldn’t surprise anyone now that Muslims usually receive the most coverage despite the fact that they are near the bottom of the list when it comes to terrorist activity.

Now that the facts are clear, do you think anyone would dare to rephrase the statement and end with “almost all terrorists are…” Latinos, leftists, environmentalists, Christians, Sikhs or Jews? I doubt it. This twisted logic is only applied for Muslims, not anyone else.

So next time you hear of a “terrorist,” think of the facts behind the perceptions, not the images infiltrating your mind. If Muslim extremists attempted to copyright the term terrorist, they would be denied. The famous statement goes: “Image is everything.” Indeed, everything but the truth.

About the author

Mustafa Umar

Mustafa Umar

Mustafa Umar was born and raised in Southern California. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Islamic Studies from the European Institute of Islamic Sciences, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Information and Computer Science from the University of California Irvine. He has traveled extensively and studied under scholars from around the world, particularly at Nadwatul Ulama in India and Al-Azhar and Dar Ul-Ulum in Egypt. He has served as Religious Director at the Islamic Foundation of Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah and the Associate Director of the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco in Southern California.


  • Alhamdulillah, a deeply insightful and articulate article. It would be an injustice to ourselves if we stopped learning to read more of our history, the good, the bad and the ugly.

    “Eco-Terrorism”, has become a new target. I would like to make us more aware of this new spin on our environmentally active Muslims.

    Jazakallah khairan br.

    Peace from the Ukay.

  • May Allah have mercy on you Zaufishan!

    What are you talking about, “you would like to make us more aware of this new spin.”

    You statement was unclear.

  • JazakAllah for the article. I learned a lot from this. I didn’t know terrorist acts by others groups happen so much more. No one ever mentions them.

  • Hey Mustafa Umar, you need to cite, they are the ones who wrote about this first and they deserve the credit!

  • With due respect, this article is half-truth and therefore misleading. It excludes terrorist attacks committed by Muslims outside the US and Europe!! Most of the cited rerferences report only American/European casualities!! If we included Muslim casualities caused by Muslim Terrorism, which are no less important, the picture is much worse than presented. Here are some references to check them out yourself:

    The question we need to ask ourselves is: are we really interested in seeking the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, what ever it might be, or are we only seeking the “convenient truth” that makes us feel and look good? Because they are definitely *not* the same.

    • Here is more evidence:

      80 innocent Muslims were killed yesterday in Pakistan by Muslim Terrorists!! Check out long list of terrorist acts committed by Muslims against Muslims in the name of Islam!!

      And instead of acknowledging we have a real problem we have to deal with, we put our heads in the sand and act like we have no “idea” why would anyone think Muslims have anything to do with terrorists!! We act as if we are totally clueless and don’t know where this can possibly be coming from!! And instead of trying to deal with the problem, we are far more interested in sweeping it all under the rug and hope it just disappears.

      And in doing so, we end up fooling no one *but* ourselves because we were never interested in the truth. We just wanted to feel and look good.

      Fix the core, and the image will shine on its own. Because no amount of PR campaign can ever make zirconia look like diamonds. Skip the fake facade. Most people can see right through it and let us start working on the real core – the moral compass we lost for centuries.

    • Asalaam walekum Rahamatulahi Wabarakatahu

      I wanted to reply to Aladdin Nassar,
      I am not trying to make fun or disgrace you but if you really want to show that your comment it true then I would advise you to not use wikipedia because it this sight is not always correct althought it might have different sourses of where the information had come from

  • Good article but I’m not sure if it’s enough to sway public opinion. 911 was just far too big and overshadows the other attacks mentioned above. The sad truth is Islam has been tarnished by 911. Americans have taken it personally and it was an attack on them. I think we have to win the Americans over, I’m not sure how. Maybe make an assertive effort to help them the next time tragedy strikes. Terrorist attacks feel personal to them and so they feel emotional about them. I think we have to win them over emotionally in some way.

  • “So next time you hear of a “terrorist,” think of the facts behind the perceptions, not the images infiltrating your mind.”

    so being a recognized member of the muslim community maybe you have a responsibility to call facts as they are and not to cave into deceptions about muslims being behind 911 — maybe when the muslim community wakes up out its defensive posture from the brainwashing that has lead it to believe that the “homegrown” extremist/ “radical” islam ideology is a fabrication to keep us shut up re the truth that 911 could NOT possibly have been carried out as the gov/media explain it and a reinvestigation should be demanded by muslims ALONGSIDE its fellow US citizens — no guys from caves could have brought building 7 or wtc 1&2 down the way the media portrays it

    speak up and give credit to your sources please – its the least you could do


  • It seems that a few people took offence to me not acknowledging loonwatch. Let me explain.
    I did go through the articles on loonwatch by Danios, may Allah bless him for all his hard work. However, I did not simply take his research and throw it into my article. Rather, I went back to the original sources from the FBI, Rand Corporation report, etc. and read through the entire article. Therefore, academically, when you return to the primary sources you don’t need to quote the secondary sources. It is only when you don’t go back that you must quote both sources. This is part of research methodology.
    However, with regards to the percentage calculation, I don’t recall whether I recalculated the statistics from the FBI database or not. I had the intention to, but I forget now. So Danios should definitely get credit for that.
    Loonwatch is an amazing website and I recommend everyone to benefit from it. I wrote this article so that people have one concise but comprehensive response to the accusations against Muslims.

    Mustafa Umar

    • “Not a single U.S. civilian has been killed by Muslim extremists since Sept 11, 2001.”

      This is referring to acts inside the States, yes?

      Americans died in the first Bali bombings.

  • If 9/11 REALLY was executed by Muslim terrorists, there’s no way Muslims can get away from this label, because FIVE THOUSAND people were killed in a single incident.

    You also need to see the intensity of an incident rather than the number.

    We never know who exactly carried out the attack of 9-11. If Al-Qaeda has really carried this out, they have ruined the image of Islam rather than fighting for it. This can never be a jihad.

    I was also pretty shocked to see that in Pakistan, very recently Muslim terrorists have killed 80 Muslims in a bomb attack after the so-called killing of Laden.

    • Were 5000 really killed?

      Also, the khawaarij weren’t able to tarnish the image of Islam when they caused fitnah for Ali (r) nor were others in our History so I do not think we should be extreme in worrying about what others are doing. Allah will protect His perfect religion.

      • so were these towers vacant on that day?

        Whoever have done that, have sinned the gravest sin.

        We never know who have done this. Only Allah (SWT) can ensure its justice.

  • This is why terrorism continues in Islam. You refuse to face up to it and try to throw out a smokescreen. I suppose you missed the massacre at Fort Hood where a Muslim killed quite a few American citizens? The time has come for Muslims to stop the denial and recognize they have a problem. It isn’t the Jews or the Christians or anyone else. No more conspiracy theories. Corsican terrorists are not a major issue or the source of a world wide war. Islam needs to reform and renounce its violent tendencies. Stop the cover up and deal with the problem.

    • “Islam” doesn’t need to reform and renounce its violent tendencies. If a certain group of Muslims have become terrorists, it doesn’t change Islam.

      Moreover, every terrorist belongs to a religion, it can be jew Christian or anything else, except the atheists who have denounced the concept of religion and God. By commenting such that “terrorism continues in Islam” is thus vague.

      These people don’t represent Islam. There are Muslim Imams and preachers and followers who are teaching the truth of Islam.

      • Nd, don’t bury your head in the sand. How much violence is it going to take before you admit what is obvious to everyone else. Muslims are killing out of religious motivations. Most Christians don’t do that and the number who do is tiny. Muslim imams have no problem preaching jihad openly. You can watch it on Arab TV. I have been watching the persecution of Christians and the beheadings. There is silence from Muslims about this, but they will riot over a cartoon. Your denial and inaction aid and abet the Islamic terrorists. Face up to it and put a stop to it.

        • persecution of Christians and beheading? :O

          i have no idea where you live, but i don’t see anything like this, nowhere near this kind of atrocities in my community, where most people are Muslims, thanks to Allah. I haven’t heard any Imam supporting these terrorist attacks either, even when this kind of things happen. There are some extremist organizations which have carried out atrocities earlier, but none supported this, and their leaders were punished and hung to death. Jihad is different, and nowhere in Quran or Hadith it has been said that killing people out of nowhere is Jihad, like the terrorists are doing. Worst of sins. Jihad is something else. For example, when a non-Muslim community wages war or invades a Muslim community and tortures them (like america has waged war against many Muslim countries so far), the Muslims MUST fight back. This is one form of physical Jihad. There are other mental jihads.

          Unfortunately, these extremists and deviated people, whom none of us support, have become a representation of Muslims for you and some other people who surely haven’t seen any good side of it.

          Sad, and yes, it IS our responsibility to improve our image, of course.

          Please do read this article about rioting over cartoons. 🙂

          You have come across a wrong article, even i don’t like it much. I also agree that we shouldn’t justify everything to make us feel good. Take care.

  • Nd, I can post dozens of examples of imam’s calling for attacks on Christians. In Egypt the Coptic Church has been persecuted for centuries. In no Muslim nation are Christians treated as equal citizens with equal rights. Not one. You can watch this on Arab TV. I have personally viewed video’s of beheadings. Watch the one of Daniel Pearl. Yet Muslims aren’t upset. Instead you blame us or the Jews. America didn’t attack out of the blue. We responded to YOUR attack on us. Pakistan was even hiding Osama, so much for Muslim support against terrorism. As for torture. Name a Muslim country that doesn’t torture people lol.

    I don’t want you to “improve your image.” I want you to start owning up to the problem. I want you to start really condemning ALL Islamic terrorism, to support the USA in our fight, to recognize that we are the good guys, to root out anyone who supports the jihad, to apologize for the attacks, and to support equality and freedom for Christians in Muslim countries.

    I get so angry when this comes up and I hear the same talking points from Muslims. Just once I want to hear a Muslim say “yeah you’re right we need to get our act together and reform.” Just once.

  • why would i support USA in “your” fight? They have killed and tortured way too many Muslims that i am nowhere near supporting these so-called war on terrorism.

    Your comment is biased, because you don’t accept the flaws of your views as well. Look above, there are more than one Muslims, including me, who have accepted that, yes, there are Muslim extremists committing atrocities and we cannot justify their acts to make us feel good. I also shared an article with you, which you surely haven’t read. And now see what you just said to me and how you said that.

    You watch TV and videos, i live.

    Of course, i should not extend this discussion with you anymore.

    • James and Nd,

      Thank you for your thoughts. Both of your opinions have been clearly articulated. However, any additional comments will not contribute to an honest and fruitful discussion.

  • Umm…the Fort Hood shooter/soldier that killed multiple people was done by an Islamic extremist with ties to terrorists. And several Islamic extremist plots and cells have been thwarted in America over just the last two years! From Seattle to Charlotte To New York City and Florida and on and on. Face Reality. Live in the real world. OPEN YOUR EYES. How can you be so obtuse?

  • This information is very useful and we should promote it at all levels. Correcting misinformation about Islam is a religious obligation. Thanks to Dr. Shalaby for promoting this and of course thanks to Mustafa Umar and to Sheikh Webb for hosting it. Good job

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