Which City Is Next on the List of US Cities at Risk of Being Attacked by Terrorists?

As of April 2020, there have been over 80 deadly terror attacks around the world since the start of the year. While the majority of these attacks have been carried out by radical Islamists, other terror groups such as the far-right, remain violent as well. In the United States, one of the most dangerous cities to be a Muslim is Detroit. It is currently the largest city in the country where a majority of the residents are Black and Muslim. Since 9/11, there have been several attacks in the city that were committed by individuals who perceived themselves as violent enemies of Muslims. In 2020 alone, there have been multiple stabbing and shooting attacks committed against Muslims in the country. This article will identify which city in the United States is the next in line to become a target of a terrorist attack, as well as the ideology that could inspire such an attack. The following sections examine the threats facing specific cities and their populations.

Houston: A Hub of Immigration and Terror

Houston, Texas, has long been considered the energy capital of the country. The oil industry began developing the city in the early 20th century, and it continues to thrive. In addition to being the country’s petrochemical center, Houston is also a major port of entry for immigrants, with over 140 mosques found in the city alone. For years, Texas has been among the leader in the number of refugees the U.S. has accepted. In 2019, Houston was home to nearly 77,000 refugees, more than any other city in the country. For many Muslims, Houston represents everything that is wrong about the United States. The city is multiethnic, with significant numbers of African Americans, Latinos, and Asians. This has led to a large number of homegrown terrorists in and around Houston. Here is a short list of some of the most horrific acts of violence against Muslims committed in the city since 9/11.

2019: The Year of Houston’s Radical Right

Last year was a bad year for Houston. In January, one of the largest mosques in the city was vandalized. During the same month, the Islamic Center of Houston was targeted by a hate group called the Crusaders, who spray-painted “Jesus Christ” on the building’s wall. Later in the year, another Houston-based hate group, the Texas Patriot Network, was revealed to be behind an online hit list that named 19 Islamic institutions across the country, including the Islamic Center of Houston. The goal of the list is to “destroy Islamic rule in the United States.” This is just a small sample of the violence and discrimination faced by Houston’s Muslim community. As a result of the wave of backlash against Muslims, over 150 mosques were forced to close their doors in 2020, down from over 300 that had opened since the start of the year. In March, a man named Dimitri Borislavov, who had ties to the neo-Nazi movement, was murdered by three white men who were allegedly affiliated with the Patriot Network. In total, 2019 was a tragic year for the city’s Muslim community.

Dallas: A City on the Rise

Located just 90 miles away from Houston, Dallas is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the country. The Dallas Morning News has called the city “ground zero” for the next outbreak of a global pandemic. Just like Houston, Dallas has a significant immigrant population, with one in every five people being foreign-born. As a result of the ongoing attacks against Muslims, hate crimes in the city nearly doubled in 2019. In April, the Anti-Defamation League named Dallas as one of the top five U.S. cities that were most affected by the recent spate of anti-Muslim hate crimes. In May, shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, a white nationalist rally was held in the city, resulting in multiple arrests. This was followed by another white nationalist rally in 2019, which was met with similar police force. Since the start of the year, there have been at least 50 incidents of white nationalist violence in the city, including 30 acts of arson, 12 shootings, and 8 beatings.

Charleston, South Carolina: A City on Edge

Although Charleston is located in South Carolina, it isn’t actually considered part of the state. Due to its unique history as the capital of the United States during the Revolutionary War, the population here is mostly made up of military personnel and their families. It is also the place where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Despite the tragic events that took place in the city, there is still a significant amount of racism and discrimination against black people here. The murder of several African-American men in 2020, most of whom were unarmed, helped fuel anti-black violence and hate crimes in the city. In March, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that over 70% of the city’s population is classified as “minority” (compared to 48% in the country at large). The city is home to significant numbers of refugees, with at least one in five residents being a legal immigrant. In the last couple of years, there has been a surge in hate crimes in the city, and the number is expected to double in the next few years. The situation here is so perilous that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated the city as a “hate zone.”

New York: A Sanctuary City

New York City, which is home to more than eight million people, is often referred to as the “melting pot” of the United States. One of the biggest cities in the world, it is the capital of the U.S. The threat of mass terror attacks here is negligible. This is mostly due to the fact that people of all religions and backgrounds live in the city. It also means that law enforcement is somewhat competent at preventing or solving crimes. When it comes to Islamic terrorism, the NYPD has a fairly good track record. Since 9/11, its officers have conducted over 100 anti-terror raids, resulting in the arrests of more than 500 individuals. The most recent investigation, which began in January, was code-named “Operation Salam Pillar” and targeted a large network of suspected terrorists in the city. At least four of those arrested in that operation belong to the so-called “ISIS army” that is being led by al-Assad al-Umari in Iraq and Syria. While this network is dangerous and led by radical Islamists, it is not considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government. This is because the NYPD considers anyone who supports the ideology of ISIS to be a legitimate threat. In 2021, the city will host the Special Olympics World Games, with attendees from all over the world. With so much going on in the city that is good for the community, there is rarely cause for concern when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Of course, this could change if there is ever another major terror attack in the city. Until then, let’s all remain vigilant.