A new US study by the University of Maryland has revealed that American veterans are more likely than other groups to carry out mass casualty attacks in the country.
The study, which was published this week by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), analyzed data from thousands of extremist crimes and plots in the US from 1990 to 2022.
It found that former US soldiers who had combat experience were 2.41 times more likely to become terrorist offenders than people with criminal records, who were only 1.26 times more likely to do so than average.
“Having a US military background is the single-strongest individual-level predictor of whether a subject . . . is classified as a mass casualty offender,” the study said, comparing veterans to other potential offenders with traits such as mental illness or being a “lone wolf.”
According to the study, 170 veterans committed or attempted 144 mass casualty attacks in the US during the period under review. Most of these plots were thwarted by law enforcement before anyone was harmed, but veterans had a higher success rate than other offenders in killing four or more people. Veterans achieved this goal in 9 percent of the cases, while other offenders did so in only 5.2 percent of the cases.
The study also said that veterans were not more prone to radicalization than the general population, but once they became radicalized they were more likely to plan mass casualty attacks, “thus having an outsized impact on public safety.”
The study suggested that the Pentagon should provide “inoculation training” to prevent veterans from being recruited by extremist groups.
Most of the terrorist and mass casualty offenders with military backgrounds were affiliated with far-right extremist groups in the country such as Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, which supported former US President Donald Trump and stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, to try to overturn the presidential election results.
US President Joe Biden has said that right-wing extremism is the biggest terrorist threat in the nation and called the January 2021 attack on the Capitol a racially motivated “insurrection.”
Many veterans were among the over 1,000 people charged with crimes related to the deadly Capitol Hill attack.
One of them was Stewart Rhodes, the leader of Oath Keepers, who was sentenced last month to 18 years in prison for his role in the January 6 attack. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy and evidence tampering in regard to the January 6, 2021, United States Capitol attack.
Rhodes, who was honorably discharged from the US Army after seven months due to a spinal injury and who is a disbarred lawyer who graduated from Yale Law School, claimed to be a “political prisoner” and vowed to be “American Solzhenitsyn to expose the criminality of this regime.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008) was a Russian critic of Communist governance.