What is extremism?

Someone who holds ideas that fall outside of "normal society" would be considered an extremist. Often times, extremism refers to a threat against mainstream society and may insinuate views which would cause problems for groups and communities.

What is terrorism?

The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

What is Violent Extremism?

FBI defines violent extremism as “encouraging, condoning, justifying, or supporting the commission of a violent act to achieve political, ideological, religious, social, or economic goals.”


Forms of Domestic Terrorism

Extremist Special Interest Groups

Rather than trying to bring about widespread political change, these groups look to resolve specific issues. Special interest extremists continue to lead acts of politically motivated violence to force segments of society to change attitudes to fit their own. They hold extreme views on animal rights, pro-life, environmental, anti-nuclear, and other movements. Using tactics such as vandalism and terrorist activity have been used in attempts to further their causes.



  • “Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Interestingly enough, their operational philosophy discourages acts that harm “any animal, human and nonhuman.”

  • “Earth Liberation Front (ELF), claimed responsibility for the arson fires set at Colorado ski resort in October 1998, which caused 12 million dollars in damages.


differences between left-wing and right-wing ideologies

Left Wing Right Wing
Political Philosophy Liberal Conservative
Economic Policy Income equality; higher tax rates on the wealthy; government spending on social problems and infrastructure; stronger regulation on business Lower taxes and less regulation on businesses; reduced government spending; balanced budget
Healthcare Policy Believe that access to healthcare is one of the fundamental rights of all citizens. Support universal healthcare, the Affordable Care Act, expansion of Medicare and Medicaid Oppose government-provided universal healthcare and the Affordable Care Act. Favor competition to Medicare from private insurance companies; oppose Medicaid expansion
Immigration Policy Pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; moratorium on deportations or prosecutions of undocumented immigrants who are young adults and have no criminal record No “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants; stronger border patrol and to check illegal immigration. Believe that illegal immigration is lowering wages for citizens and documented immigrants
Education Policy Favor expanded free, public education Believe parents who want to home-school their kids or send them to private school should be able to get vouchers for choosing out of the public school system. Typically,not opposed to Public Education
Views on Abortion In favor of abortion rights, and stem cell research Against abortion and opposed to stem cell research
Views on Gay Rights Generally support gay marriage; support anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT against workplace discrimination Generally opposed to gay marriage; opposed to certain anti-discrimination laws due to certain religious beliefs and restrict freedom of religion
Views on Gun Rights In favor of gun control laws (i.e. background checks); banning automatic weapons; and ban concealed weapons Strongly opposed gun control laws; strong advocator of the Second Amendment
Ideologies Social Democracy; Federalism; Socialism, Communism; Collectivism; Marxism Republican Party; Libertarians; Constitutional Party
Associated Political Parties Democratic Party, Green, Socialist Capitalism; Conservatism

Right-Wing Attacks

  • Oklahoma City Bombing, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols

  • Major terrorist plots and racist rampages have included plans to bomb government buildings, banks, refineries, utilities, clinics, synagogues, mosques, memorials and bridges; to assassinate police officers, judges, politicians, civil rights figures and others, etc

  • Use political violence to make changes


Aryan Nation

  • Founded in 1977

  • Ideology: Neo-Nazi

  • Once a powerful organizing force for white supremacists that cultivated a wide spectrum of racist and anti-Semitic ideas

  • LA Jewish Community Center shooting was committed by one of its members


Brotherhood of Klans

  • Founded in 1996

  • Ideology: Ku Klux Klan

  • Brotherhood of Klans (BOK) has been one of the largest and most widespread Ku Klux Klan organizations in the United States. It’s also the only KKK faction to establish chapters outside the U.S., such as Canada

  • “The KKK wants you. Join today and win back your rights that have been given to others in the name of political correctness. We are fighting to preserve the existence of our race and a future for White children.” — Brotherhood of Klans recruiting flier


National Alliance

  • Founded in 1970

  • Ideology: Neo-Nazi

  • One of the most dangerous and best organized neo-Nazi formation for decades in America. Having an explicitly genocidal ideology, their materials call for the eradication of the Jews and other races, and the creation of an all-white homeland.


New Black Panther Party

  • Founded in 1989

  • Ideology: Black Separatist

  • A virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers