WASHINGTON — The number of Muslim Americans involved in terrorist acts dropped by more than half last year compared to 2009, easing fears that the minority group is being radicalized, a study showed Wednesday.
Twenty Muslim Americans committed or were arrested for terrorist crimes last year, down sharply from 2009 when the number was 47, found the study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
More non-Muslim Americans were involved in terrorist plots last year than Muslim Americans, according to the study.
And the number of murders committed in the United States was exponentially greater than terror attacks, with the vast majority of murders not involving Muslims.
“Since 9/11, there have been approximately 150,000 murders in the United States, more than 15,000 per year,” said the study, led by University of North Carolina sociology professor Charles Kurzman.
“There were also more than 20 terrorist plots by non-Muslims in the United States in 2010,” it said.
But with Muslims making up around one percent of the US population, “it is clear that Muslims are engaging in terrorism at a greater rate than non-Muslims — though at a low level compared with overall violence in the United States.”
Foiled attacks or involvement in a terrorist plot by Muslim Americans stand out because they garner so much media attention, “creating the impression — perhaps unintentionally — that Muslim American terrorism is more prevalent than it really is,” the study said.
The Triangle Center study tracked the number of Muslim Americans involved in terror plots since 2001.
In 2009, the number of US Muslims suspected of involvement in terrorist acts nearly tripled from 14 the previous year to 47, sparking fears that Muslim Americans were becoming radicalized.
But “the total for 2010 suggests that the previous year may have been more of an aberration than a trend,” wrote Kurzman.
The study “puts into perspective the threat presented by domestic radicalization of Muslim Americans,” said David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center.
“Americans should take note that these crimes are being perpetrated by a handful of people whose actions are denounced and rejected by virtually all the Muslims living in the United States,” he said.
Triangle Center released the study a day after Philadelphia housewife Colleen LaRose, who called herself “JihadJane” and surfed the Internet to recruit Islamic holy warriors, admitted to terror charges stemming from a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist.
The study also comes as a House of Representatives committee prepares to hold hearings into the radicalization of US Muslims.
Democratic lawmakers in the House have called for the hearings to include all groups seen as potential domestic terrorism threats, not just Muslims.
But the Republican head of the committee, Peter King, has refused.