The number of US mass killings linked to extremism over the past decade was at least three times higher than the total from any other 10-year period since the 1970s, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL report also found that all extremist killings identified in 2022 were linked to rightwing extremism, with an especially high number linked to white supremacy.
They include a racist mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 Black people and a mass shooting that killed five people at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that we live in an age of extremist mass killings,” the report from the ADL Center on Extremism says.
Between two and seven extremism-related mass killings occurred every decade from the 1970s to the 2000s but in the 2010s that number rocketed to 21, the report found.
The trend has continued with five extremist mass killings in 2021 and 2022, as many as there were during the 2000s.
The number of victims has risen too. Between 2010 and 2020, 164 people died in ideological extremist-related mass killings, according to the report. That was much more than in any other decade except the 1990s, when the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168.
Extremist killings are those carried out by people with ties to extreme movements and ideologies.
Several factors combined to drive numbers up between 2010 and 2020. There were shootings inspired by the rise of the Islamic State group as well as a handful targeting police officers after civilian shootings and others linked to the increasing promotion of violence by white supremacists, said Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Center on Extremism.
The center tracks slayings linked to various forms of extremism in the US and compiles them in an annual report. It tracked 25 extremism-related killings last year, a decrease from the 33 the year before.
Ninety-three percent of the killings in 2022 were committed with firearms. The report also noted that no police officers were killed by extremists last year, for the first time since 2011.
With the waning of Islamic State, the main threat in the near future will likely be white supremacist shooters, the report found.
The increase in the number of mass killing attempts is one of the most alarming trends in recent years, said Oren Segal, vice-president of the Center on Extremism.
“We cannot stand idly by and accept this as the new norm,” Segal said.