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By Kennett Werner

White supremacists and other far-right groups committed the majority of extremist-related murders in the United States last year, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League.

White supremacists were "directly responsible" for 18 out of 34 U.S. extremist-related deaths in 2017, the ADL said. Islamic extremists, by comparison, were only responsible for nine deaths in America.


Last year’s share of white supremacist killings represents a jump from 2016, when such groups accounted for nine homicides.

In an op-ed in The Atlantic accompanying the report, ADL National Director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt noted that the uptick in white supremacist violence in 2017 occurred against the backdrop of an increasingly conspicuous alt-right movement.

Image: Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville
A gathering of hundreds of white nationalists in Charlottesville, V.A., on August 12Mark Peterson / Redux Pictures

"While it is impossible to draw a direct line of causation between these brutal acts and the many public displays of white supremacy that took place around the country in 2017,” Greenblatt wrote, "it’s critical not to underestimate the effect of an increasingly visible alt-right and white-supremacist community on people who are already predisposed to racism."

“As a society we need to keep a close watch on recruitment and rallies such as Charlottesville, which have the greatest potential to provoke and inspire violence,” Greenblatt wrote, referring to last summer’s white nationalist rally, when a counter-protestor was killed.

While white supremacists accounted for the largest share of killings last year, an Islamic extremist is charged with committing the single deadliest incident: Sayfullo Saipov allegedly rammed into pedestrians in New York City in October, killing eight.

Last year’s total of 34 extremist-related fatalities represents a sharp decline from the previous two years – though it was still the fifth-deadliest year since 1970, according to the ADL. The organization recorded 71 extremist-related killings in 2016 and 69 in 2015.

The statistics were culled from the ADL’s own tracking of extremist crimes. The organization said that its statistics would likely be revised upwards, as extremist connections to some murders can take months to uncover.

But different organizations track extremist violence in different ways. The ADL counts non-ideological murders committed by extremists in its tally — so a dedicated white supremacist who commits a murder unrelated to his political beliefs would be counted, for example. New America, a think tank with its own tracking system, excludes such statistics.