The killings in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday mark the sixth successful attack motivated by Islamic extremism in America since September 11, 2001, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.
The analysis counts attacks conducted by people espousing a radical Islamist ideology that resulted in at least one murder. The six incidents were carried out across the country from Boston to Tennessee to California. The terrorists involved employed either firearms, explosives, or a combination of the two during their attacks. Five of the six attacks have occurred since 2009.
The first of the post-9/11 attacks on American soil occurred at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4th, 2002, where an Egyptian national, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, murdered two Israelis and injured four others at the El Al ticket counter before being killed by security.
"Federal investigators determined that the shooting at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002, was a terrorist act carried out by a lone gunman bent on becoming a martyr," CNN reported at the time. "They characterized the shooting as an act of terrorism because Hadayet espoused anti-Israeli views and was opposed to U.S. policy in the Middle East, the sources said."
After the El Al attack there were no successful islamic terrorist attacks in America until 2009, when two were carried out within six months of one another. The first occurred at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas, on June 1st, 2009, when Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad shot and killed an Army private and wounded another soldier. Muhammad told investigators he converted to Islam as a teenager and said he carried out his attack because he "was angry about the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to The New York Times.
The next attack happened on August 5, 2009, in Fort Hood, Texas. Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major who had been radicalized after communicating with al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, attacked troops at the base, killing thirteen while shouting "Allahu akbar!" Hasan justified his actions by arguing in court that the United States was conducting "illegal and immoral aggression against Muslims" in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post.
On April 15, 2013, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 264 others, before later killing a police officer. "The portrait investigators have begun to piece together of the two brothers suspected of the Boston Marathon bombings suggests that they were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs but were not acting with known terrorist groups," the New York Times reported at the time. "They may have learned to build bombs simply by logging onto the online English-language magazine of the affiliate of Al Qaeda in Yemen, law enforcement officials said Tuesday."
Thus far in 2015 there have been two successful Islamic terrorist attacks on American soil. The first occurred on July 16, 2015, when Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed five in a shooting attack on a military recruiting center and another military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Though the FBI still hasn't made an official announcement on whether the attack was an act of terror, Abdulazeez described others who engaged in Islamic jihad "the best human beings that ever lived" on his personal website, and had recordings of speeches by Anwar al-Awlaki, the same American cleric linked to the Fort Hood shootings, who was killed in an airstrike in Yemen in 2011.
The FBI has announced that it is investigating the attack in San Bernardino, California, as an act linked to terrorism. Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 and injured 21 others last week. Malik pledged her support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, on Facebook during the shooting, the Washington Post reports. “The investigation so far has developed indications of radicalization by the killers and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations,” FBI Director James Comey said on Friday.
There have been a number of unsuccessful terrorist attacks inspired by radical Islam in the same time period, including a failed effort to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with a "shoe bomb," an attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square in 2010, and an attempt to murder attendees at an event featuring cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in Texas this year.