Terrorist acts committed by “lone wolves” and white supremacist groups have consistently been the biggest threat to minority groups in America. Early Saturday morning, as worshippers were preparing for the daily dawn prayer, a bomb exploded at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. None of the 15-20 people inside were harmed. Corporate news media, however, was slow to report on the incident. In the immediate aftermath, no media outlets outright called the incident an act of terrorism. This attack is only the latest in a string of over a dozen anti-Muslim hate crimes over the past year in Minnesota alone.
The reluctance to call textbook terrorist acts by white supremacist “terrorism” is not only limited to corporate media coverage, but also pervades institutions at the federal level. While the Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, called the bombing “a criminal act of terrorism,” during a visit to the Islamic Center on Sunday, the Trump administration has been completely silent and has not released any statement in response to the incident. The FBI is investigating the incident, but has not yet identified a suspect or motive for the bombing.
As has been widely reported, the latest statistics show that hate-motivated acts against minorities is rising at exponential rates. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there has been a 200% spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes between 2015 and 2016. Hate crimes overall rose 67% between 2015 and 2016. In the 10 days that followed Trump’s election, over 800 hate-motivated incidents were recorded, about 300 of them specifically targeting immigrants and Muslims. Over 900 extremist groups are reportedly active throughout the United States. While the State Department maintains an official Foreign Terrorist Organization list, there is no known list by which the federal government designates domestic, white supremacist organizations as terrorist or hate groups.
The Southern Poverty Law Center does thorough and excellent work in documenting hate groups of all types across the United States and, in recent years, the FBI has worked toward improving its own documentation of hate crimes. However, there needs to be a much stronger effort from the government in condemning domestic hate groups and calling out their violent actions for what they are: terrorism.
A 2015 poll conducted by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found that U.S. law enforcement agencies “consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face.” There must now be a coordinated effort from federal law enforcement to formally designate white supremacist hate groups that carry out fatal attacks as terrorists.
Tragically, the Dar Al Farooq bombing occurred on the fifth anniversary of the Oak Creek massacre in Wisconsin, in which a white man shot and killed six Sikh worshippers in a Gurdwara. Now, for minorities, the threat of being targeted by racist and bigoted individuals or groups is exponentially greater. Federal law enforcement must start viewing white supremacist hate crimes with the same vigilance as they do the much lesser threat of foreign, so-called “Islamic” terrorism.