Dallas: An act of domestic terrorism


Story highlights

Dallas attack seemingly first instance of deadly terrorism from extreme left in post-9/11 era, Peter Bergen and David Sterman say

Dallas a reminder violent extremism isn't province of any one ideology, they say

Editor’s Note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists.” David Sterman is a senior program associate at New America’s International Security Program and holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies.

CNN —  

Thursday’s attack in Dallas provides a reminder that violent extremism and terrorist attacks are not the province of any one ideology. Instead, political violence has a long history in the United States and not just from people drawn to Osama bin Laden and his successors’ vision of global jihad.

The suspected Dallas sniper who killed five police officers has been identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old from Mesquite, Texas.

The Dallas shootings, like the one carried out last year by Dylann Roof on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine people dead, were politically motivated.

Roof said he wanted to start a “race war,” officials said, and he posted racist screeds on a white supremacist site.

Johnson “wanted to kill officers, and he expressed killing white people, he expressed killing white officers, he expressed anger for Black Lives Matter,” Dallas police Chief David Brown said.

On his Facebook page, Johnson poses with a clenched fist as if delivering a Black Power salute.

Terrorism is generally understood to be acts of violence conducted against civilians for political purposes. Killing white police officers who are guarding a peaceful demonstration certainly qualifies as terrorism, in the same way that Roof’s attack on black churchgoers does.