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Terrorism in the United States of America Essay

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Updated: Jun 8th, 2022


Terrorism is a serious problem affecting the United States of America that is likely to worsen in the coming years. The number of terrorist groups operating within the borders has increased over the past decade. Data provided by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) shows that white supremacists pose the greatest risk to the nation’s security. Moreover, anarchists and religious extremists have been cited as perpetrators of terrorist activities within the US. Common types of terrorism include right-wing terrorism (white supremacists and anti-government extremists), left-wing terrorism, and religious terrorism. Recent events following the death of George Floyd have revealed the new face of terrorism in the US. The spread of false information, conspiracy theories, and incitements to violence are some of the means that terrorist groups are using to advance their agenda. Aryan Nations and the Ku Klux Klan are terrorist organizations that continue to promote racial and religious violence as well as anti-Semitic ideas.

Domestic Terrorist Organizations

Aryan Nations

Aryan Nations (AN) is a white supremacist terrorist organization that is headquartered in Hayden, Idaho. It is a form of right-wing terrorism that is anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi, and that was founded by Richard Girnt Butler in 1977. Its main objective is to establish a white state that excludes other races by fighting against people that pose a threat to the white race, including the Jews and African Americans (Perliger, 2020). Constructivism theory can be used to explain the development and motivations of AN. Originally, it was a branch of the Christian Identity church that has two core teachings: whites are the true Israelites and Jews originated from a union between Satan and Eve. The group has been involved in several criminal activities, hence its classification by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a terrorist threat in 2001. Moreover, it is founded on a wide spectrum of racist and anti-Semitic ideas that promote racial intolerance (Perliger, 2020). The organization has been described by the RAND Corporation as a pioneer nationwide terrorist network in the US.

Aryan Nations has a single leader who makes all the group’s decisions. Unlike other terrorist organizations, it lacks a hierarchical structure and its activities are determined by the leader. It has been infiltrated by the FBI through an informant. Dave Hall, the group’s propaganda minister was an informant who exposed the organization’s illegal activities (Perliger, 2020). He reported directly to Special Agent Tym Burkey, a security officer who was helping Dayton’s organized Jewish community fight the group’s hate campaign. AN is linked to other terrorist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), National Alliance, and The Silent Brotherhood (Perliger, 2020). The group is funded privately by individuals who support its ideologies and through its involvement in criminal activities. It lacks a strong organization and communication strategy, and it relies on the internet to conduct recruitments and spread its ideologies.

In recent years, wrangles have developed within the organization since the death of its founder, and splinter groups have emerged. It weakened in 2001 after losing its Northern Idaho compound where it was headquartered (Perliger, 2020). The group might disintegrate in the future because of its dwindling number of followers, leadership wrangles, and a lack of finances to fund its activities. Law enforcement agencies have heightened surveillance on groups and individuals deemed to promote terrorism in the US. Therefore, people might be afraid of donating to their initiatives and joining them as members for fear of victimization and prosecution.

Ku Klux Klan

The KKK refers to a domestic left-wing terrorist group that uses fear to advance its white supremacist ideologies. The original group was disbanded in the 1870s, and it was revived in 1915 as a new outfit. The organization had more than 4 million members in the 1920s, and it was financed from member contributions and the sale of publications and costumes. Its objectives include the suppression of African Americans, Catholics, Jews, immigrants, leftists, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community (Jones et al., 2020). Its motivations and ideologies can be explained using the constructivism theory because terrorism is a social construct. The group operates primarily in the Southern United States. They are active in several states, including Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina among others. Affiliate groups include Noble Klans of America, United Klans of America, the White Knights of Texas, and the Rebel Brigade Knights True Invisible Empire among others.

The group’s organization involves a hierarchical structure that includes a titular head, leaders for each congressional district, and county heads. The overall leader is referred to as the Grand Dragon while the head of a congressional district is referred to as the Grand Titan. The counties are overseen by a head known as the Grand Giant, who is responsible for organizing militia members and supplying them with weapons. The Grand Dragon makes the group’s most critical decisions and receives frequent reports from district heads regarding the organization’s activities. The KKK is funded primarily by individuals who support the group’s ideologies. Counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) refers to a series of activities conducted by the FBI between 1956 and 1979 to disrupt political organizations that destabilized the US (Perliger, 2020). COINTELPRO-White Hate program involved the infiltration of the KKK by FBI agents through overt techniques that included paying informers, bribing Klansmen, and the use of wiretaps and bugs.

The KKK has experienced a steady decline in membership in the past decade. However, the organization continues to promote its ideologies and recruit more people. Its new techniques include creating new websites, opening accounts for donations, and creating content that spreads its ideologies (Jones et al., 2020). In the future, the organization is likely to plateau because of poor leadership, wrangles within the group, and the inability to create and maintain alliances. Moreover, the group has numerous affiliate hate groups. Therefore, the lack of a stable leadership system is a risk to the group’s stability. Moreover, increased surveillance and monitoring by security agencies hamper their activities around the country.


Terrorism is a serious threat to the security of the United States of America. For many decades, security agencies in the country have implemented several measures to curb the rise in terrorism within the country’s borders. Right-wing, left-wing, and religious forms of terrorism are common in the US. Aryan Nations (AN) and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) are terrorist groups that have operated in the US for decades. They are funded mainly by individuals who subscribe to their ideologies. Their involvement in racial and anti-Semitic criminal activities renders them, terrorist groups, as classified by the FBI. The groups might disintegrate in the future because of leadership wrangles and the lack of funding. Moreover, increased surveillance by security agencies has hampered their recruitment and fundraising activities.


Jones, S. G., Doxsee, C., & Harrington, N. (2020). The escalating terrorism problem in the United States. Center for strategic and International Studies. Web.

Perliger, A. (2020). American zealots: Inside right-wing domestic terrorism. Columbia University Press.

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