In order to compare the frequency of terror attacks in the United States under President George W. Bush with President Obama, Independent Journal Review logged every instance in which at least one person died on American soil.
The FBI defines domestic terrorism as acts committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States that are dangerous to human life, violate laws and:
“Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping.”
The list below does not include incidences in which law enforcement prevented an attack from taking place or in which victims were wounded, but not killed. Attacks on diplomatic facilities overseas are not included.
This list was compiled with data primarily from the FBI and the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), which is made available by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
Domestic terror attacks are presented in chronological order and the number of fatalities are presented at the end of each year.
The Bush Presidency
1. September 11, 2001
The coordinated hijacking of four U.S. commercial airliners by 19 al-Qaeda affiliates resulted in the death of 2,996 people, making it the most deadly act of terrorism ever committed.
2. Anthrax Mailings, Fall of 2001
From September to November 2001, anthrax-tainted parcels mailed to Congressmen and journalists led to the death of five people. The message included in the letters read, in part, “Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is Great.”
These deaths are the first known in the United States from a biological agent.
Year 2001 victim total: 3,001. Overall total: 3,020
3. Tampa, FL, January 5, 2002
Fifteen-year-old Charles Bishop stole a single engine airplane and crashed it into the 28th and 29th floors of the local Bank of America building. Although Bishop wrote a suicide letter sympathetic to the 9/11 hijackers, the Global Terrorism Database notes his mental state may prevent this incident from being considered terrorism proper.
Bishop is the only person who died in the incident.
4. LAX Ticket Counter Shooting, July 4, 2002
Hesham Mohamed Ali Hedayat began shooting randomly while standing in line at the Los Angeles International Airport. Two innocent people were killed and an investigation found that Hedayat was motivated by his religious and political beliefs.
Hedayat was shot dead by a security guard.
Year 2002 victim total: 2 deaths. Overall total: 4 deaths.
No such deaths occurred in 2003, 2004, or 2005.
5. Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, July 28, 2006
Naveed Afzal Haq forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and killed one of the women working there.
The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) includes this incident in its database, but notes it has reservations over calling it terrorism proper.
Year 2006 victim total: 1 death. Overall total: 1 death.
No such deaths occurred in 2007.
Total fatalities during Bush’s administration: 3,025
The Obama Presidency
1. Unitarian Church Shooting, July 27, 2008
Jim Adkisson opened fire in a Knoxsville, TN, Unitarian-Universalist church that promoted progressive social work, killing two people. Adkisson said he was partly motivated by his “hatred of the liberal movement.”
Year 2008 victim total: 2 deaths. Overall total: 2 deaths.
2. Arivaca, AZ, May 30, 2009
Shawna Forde, Jason Eugene Bush, and Albert Robert Gaxiola broke into the family home of Raul Flores, and killed Flores and his nine-year-old daughter.
Ford and Bush are founding members of the Minuteman American Defense, an anti-illegal alien group. The attack was carried out to advance their cause, although the Floreses were U.S. citizens.
3. Wichita, KS, May 31, 2009
George Tiller, a late-term abortionist, was shot dead in the foyer of the Reformation Lutheran Church by anti-abortion gunman Scott Roeder.
4. Little Rock, AR, June 1, 2009
Abdulhakim Muhammad killed one soldier outside of a military recruiting station. He later claimed to be a member of al-Qaeda.
5. Washington, D.C., June 10, 2009
White supremacist James W. von Brunn killed one person, a security guard, when he fired upon civilians inside the National Holocaust Memorial Museum.
6. Ft. Hood, TX, November 5, 2009
Year 2009 victim total: 18 deaths. Overall total 18 deaths.
7. Austin, TX, February 18, 2010
Joseph Stack flew his private plane into the Internal Revenue Service building, killing himself and one innocent person.
8. The Pentagon, March 4, 2010
John Patrick Bedell non-fatally injured two police officers at the entrance of the Pentagon but was himself mortally wounded. Bedell was apparently motivated by anti-government sentiments, but it is unclear whether he was on the right or left side of the political spectrum.
9. Silver Spring, MD, September 1, 2010
James Lee took three hostages at the Discovery Communications headquarters building. Lee disapproved of the network’s television programming on overpopulation. The hostages survived but Lee was killed by police.
Year 2010 victim total: 1 death. Overall total: 4 deaths.
No such deaths occurred in 2011.
10. Wisconsin Sikh Temple, August 5, 2012
Wade Michael Page, a member of a white supremacist organization, gunned down six people before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Year 2012 victim total: 6 deaths. Overall total: 7 deaths.
11. Boston Marathon Bombing, April 2013
Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev detonated two bombs made from a pressure cooker, nails, and BBS near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Three spectators were killed in the attack and hundreds were injured.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was also killed later.
After a multi-day manhunt, Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police and Dzhokhar was apprehended.
12. LAX Airport, November 1, 2013
Paul Ciancia opened fire on Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, killing one before he was captured.
Year 2013 victim total: 5 deaths. Overall total: 6 deaths.
13. Kansas City, KS, April 13, 2014
Cross is a former Ku Klux Klan member and shouted “Heil Hitler” as he was arrested.
14. Seattle, WA, April 27, 2014
Ali Muhammad Brown killed one civilian, stating that his motivation was to punish the United States for its involvement in the Middle East.
15. Seattle, WA, June 1, 2014
In a second attack, Ali Muhammad Brown killed two civilians, prompted by the same motivation.
16. Cumming, GA, June 6, 2014
Dennis Marx, self-identifying as a member of the Sovereign Citizen movement, opened fire on a county courthouse before he was killed by law enforcement. One county deputy suffered non-life threatening injuries.
17. Las Vegas, NV, June 8 2014
Two anti-government gunmen, Jerad and Amanda Miller, ambushed police officers at a restaurant and attacked a Walmart. Both gunmen, two officers, and a bystander were killed.
18. West Orange, NJ, June 25, 2014
Assailants, including Ali Muhammad Brown from the two Seattle attacks, killed a bystander to punish the United States for its involvement in the Middle East. Brown was convicted of terrorism. Charges against two other suspects were dropped.
19. Blooming Grove, PA, September 12, 2014
Eric Frein, an anti-government gunman, killed one state trooper at the Blooming Grove barracks.
20. New York City, NY, October 23, 2014
Zale Thompson, a Muslim convert, was killed after he non-fatally attacked a police patrol with a hatchet.
21. Austin, TX, November 28, 2014
Larry McQuilliams opened fire on three government and security buildings in the same day before being shot by police. Authorities suspect he was motivated by anti-government sentiment.
22. Morganton, NC, December 18, 2014
Justin Nojan Sullivan was charged with the killing of his neighbor as part of his plan to carry out an ISIS-inspired attack.
23. New York City, NY, December 20, 2014
Ismaaiyl Brinsley opened fire on NYC police officers while they were sitting in their vehicle to avenge the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Two police officers were killed in the attack.
Year 2014 victim total: 14 deaths. Overall total: 19 deaths.
24. New Orleans Airport, March 20, 2015
An assailant, identified as Richard White, attacked TSA agents with wasp killer spray and a machete at a security checkpoint. White was killed by responding agents.
The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) includes this incident in its database but notes it has reservations over calling it terrorism proper.
25. Garland, TX, May, 3, 2015
Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi opened fire at a conference center that was hosting an exhibition of cartoon of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The assailants were killed in the attack.
26. Charleston, SC, June 17, 2015
Dylann Roof opened fire on parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing nine. Roof admitted he was there to “kill black people.”
27. Chattanooga, TN, September 16, 2015
Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez killed five military personnel during a shooting rampage at the Navy Operational Support Center and an Army recruiting office. Abdulazeez was ultimately killed but he had expressed admiration of anti-American extremists in the past.
28. Lafayette, LA, September 23, 2015
John Russell Houser opened fire at a movie screening, killing two, before killing himself. Houser said he carried out the attack with the intention of harming the United States economy.
29. Merced, CA, November 4, 2015
Faisal Mohammad attacked students on the University of California – Merced campus. He was shot and killed by police officers while no civilians were killed. A manifesto demonstrated Mohammad’s jihadist intentions and admiration of ISIS.
30. Colorado Springs, CO, November 27, 2015
Robert Lewis Dear, an anti-abortion activist, opened fire on a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing three people. He was captured by SWAT team members after a five-hour standoff.
31. San Bernardino, CA, December 2, 2015
Year 2015 victim total: 33 deaths. Overall total: 41 deaths.
The Global Terrorism Database does not include data on terrorist attacks in 2016. But incidents that occurred in 2016 and are still being investigated are included below:
32. Columbus, OH, February 11, 2016
Mohammad Barry attacked an Ohio restaurant with a Jewish proprietor, Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, with a machete. No civilians were fatally wounded but Barry was killed by police.
33. Orlando, FL, June 12, 2016
In a 911 call on the night Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay nightclub, he pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS. Police eventually killed the gunman.
34. Bristol, TN, July 9, 2016
Lakeem Keon Scott killed one woman when he shot indiscriminately at passing cars on a Tennessee highway. Scott, who was apprehended by police, said he was motivated by the recent killings of black men by law enforcement.
35. Dallas, TX, July 9, 2016
Shooter Micah Xavier Johnson killed five police officers near the end of a peaceful protest against recent police shootings of black men. Johnson told officers he wanted to kill white people in general, but white police officers in particular.
The gunman was later killed that night by a robot deployed by police. It is being considered by several analysts to be an anti-police terror attack.
36. Baton Rouge, LA, July 17, 2016
Year 2016 victim total: 58 deaths. Overall total: 62 deaths.
Total fatalities during Obama’s administration to date: 159
While there were a greater number of people killed as a result of terror attacks in the United States under the Bush administration, the number of fatalities on one attack–on 9/11–was unusually large.
The frequency of attacks that resulted in at least one person dead was higher under the Obama administration.