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Domestic Terrorism (From Atlas of Crime: Mapping the Criminal Landscape, P 162-170,, 2000, Linda S. Turnbull, Elaine Hallisey Hendrix, eds, et al., -- See NCJ-193465

NCJ Number
Damon D. Camp
Date Published
9 pages
This chapter discusses the wide array of groups that use terror to promote their political cause.
Modern terrorism is characterized by three elements: (1) violence or the threat of violence is used to intimidate; (2) random attacks on “innocent” non-combatants create a sense of terror, dread, and intense fear; and (3) this fear is used to force persons in authority to respond in ways that are contrary to the norm. Domestic terrorism in the United States can be divided into four categories: the Right Wing and the Left Wing, issued-oriented groups, cults, and gangs. The geographic distribution of terrorist incidents from 1990 through 1996 appears to be random, occurring sporadically in various regions of the country. The West’s three incidents rank it higher than the other regions. The South and the Midwest have two each and the Northeast only one. Right-wing extremism contains the largest assortment of groups and poses the greatest threat today. The “Far Right” represents probably the largest collection of domestic violent extremist groups in the country. Left-wing groups have been on the scene for decades and are mainly Marxist-oriented. Most left-wing groups are anti-government, fervent revolutionaries, and focus on a specific issue or set of concerns. Whereas right-wing groups seek to localize control and diffuse Federal power, left-wing groups strive to replace current structures with socialist/communist forms of government. Patronage groups consist of organizations interested either in seeking a forum from which to promote their crusade or in providing direct support for their cause. Special interest groups form around issues such as abortion, AIDS, and the environment. Another type of special interest group is represented by a collection of pro-life radicals who have been responsible for deadly threats, bombings, and numerous other terrorist acts. Cult and gang followers are generally more egocentric than altruistic in nature. These individuals justify their actions not by political righteousness, but rather by devotion to a way of life. The geographic display of information on terrorist groups may assist in efforts to identifying heavy concentrations of activity and locations of home bases. 5 figures, 42 references