Before wading into the debate, The Root decided to examine the controversy by reviewing the facts.


What is a “terror threat?”

First, we must first be clear on what exactly constitutes a “terror threat.” Instead of conjuring up our own definition, we will use the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s own explanation:

Domestic terrorism: Perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

—for example, the June 8, 2014 Las Vegas shooting, during which two police officers inside a restaurant were killed in an ambush-style attack, which was committed by a married couple who held anti-government views and who intended to use the shooting to start a revolution.


In that same August blog post, Wray wrote that the FBI is “keeping our eye on the threat of domestic terrorism. We define that as attacks carried out by people inspired by, or associated with, U.S.-based movements that promote violent extremist ideologies. That’s everything from militias and anarchist groups to race supremacist groups and environmental extremists.”

I guess he would know better than Don Lemon.

Who are the terrorist threats?

The Root combed through news reports, DOJ data, reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League and other listings to come up with a list of every act of terrorism in the last five years. In some cases, we erred on the side of caution and didn’t include the person on the list. For instance, if a white supremacist killed someone during a robbery, then we excluded the person because the primary motivation for the crime wasn’t “political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”


We also scoured the FBI database to come up with people who were arrested before they committed a terrorist act, so not all of the people on the list have injured or killed someone. We listed the perpetrator’s race, if it was known, and the number of victims killed and/or injured. You can view our data here.

What we discovered


Using our list, we discovered 160 individuals that were convicted or accused of or committing or planning an act of domestic terrorism (Some on the list were not convicted, as they were killed while committing the act). Here are a few a few highlights from our data.


Was Don Lemon right?

In short, yes. The biggest terror threat in this country is white men, which makes sense because there are far more white men in this country.