President Donald Trump has used the threat of foreign-born terrorists to justify his travel ban – but since 9/11, nearly every terrorist attack in the United States has come from within. On this episode of Reveal, we investigate which domestic terror episodes get tracked and why.
Reveal's Stan Alcorn looks into two back-to-back terrorist plots in 2010: a Somali American's attempted bombing of a Portland, Oregon, Christmas tree lighting and an American arsonist who set the suspect's mosque on fire in reaction. We look into how law enforcement responded to these cases so differently – despite the role it played in one.
Already, there's a huge disparity in the way U.S. law enforcement investigates and prosecutes right-wing extremists and other suspected terrorists. Veteran journalists and counterterrorism experts discuss this phenomenon under the Obama and Trump administrations.
The law often goes after Islamist terrorists in the U.S. more than domestic right-wing ones. Reveal's Katharine Mieszkowski tells the story of Jerad and Amanda Miller, a couple who'd raised red flags with local law enforcement. But investigators didn't regard their anti-government views as a threat – until they targeted police in a shooting spree.
Hateful rhetoric has become so commonplace that many Americans ignore it – sometimes, with deadly consequences.
Illustration by Michael I Schiller for Reveal