BRUSSELS -- The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have brought into sharper focus the rise of a new breed of jihadists, one that blurs the line between organized crime and Islamist extremism, using skills honed in lawbreaking in the service of violent radicalism.
The Islamic State is constructing an army of loyalists from Europe that includes an increasing number of street toughs and ex-cons as the nature of radicalization evolves in the era of its self-proclaimed caliphate. Rather than leave behind lives of crime, some adherents are using their illicit talents to finance recruiting rings and travel costs for foreign fighters even as their backgrounds give them potentially easier access to cash and weapons, posing a new kind of challenge to European authorities.
Recently in Terrorism Category
In some cases, running or hiding may be the right response. If the professionals are on the scene, it is best to leave it to them. Other times, though, the combined efforts of multiple people, even if unarmed, can end the killing, and more companies are now including active response in their active shooter training. Michael Rosenwald has this story in the WaPo.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- All schools in the vast Los Angeles Unified School District have been ordered closed due to a threat, a spokeswoman Ellen Morgan said Tuesday.
Today on Good Morning America, John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and now a national security consultant for ABC News, dropped a bombshell: over the objections of security-minded DHS personnel, the Obama administration secretly barred DHS from looking at postings on social media by visa applicants like Tashfeen Malik:
Fearing a civil liberties backlash and "bad public relations" for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end a secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, a former senior department official said. ...
Former DHS under-secretary Cohen said he and others pressed hard for just such a policy change in 2014 that would allow a review of publicly-posted social media messages as terror group followers increasingly used Twitter and Facebook to show their allegiance to a variety of jihadist groups.
Sanchez, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, said that between 5 and 20 percent of Muslims want to form a caliphate to target Western norms.Saying "between 5 and 20 percent" wasn't a good idea. Her follow-up "I don't know how big that is" is completely correct. Nobody knows. Islamic extremism exists, and regardless of how large the fraction is, this is a reality that cannot be ignored. Willingness to speak uncomfortable truths places a checkmark in Ms. Sanchez's column, in my view.
"They are not content enough to have their way of looking at the world, they want to put their way on everybody in the world," Sanchez said on "PoliticKING with Larry King." "And again, I don't know how big that is, and depending on who you talk to, but they are certainly, they are willing to go to extremes. They are willing to use and they do use terrorism."
On a related issue, Rudy Giuliani has an op-ed in the WSJ on calling things by their proper names.
Mr. Obama gets the maximum Four Pinocchios (reserved for "whoppers") for his December 1 statement in Paris, "I say this every time we've got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn't happen in other countries." Wow.
The President's other, more nuanced statements about the relative frequency of such incidents get the milder Two Pinocchio rating ("significant omissions and/or exaggerations"). To check the facts, Ms. Lee consults experts Adam Lankford and John Lott and gets very different answers.
Astute readers might notice how Lankford and Lott both compared the United States to grouped European countries, but their conclusions are vastly different. Lott says the rate is about the same, while Lankford says the rate is five times higher in the United States. How is this possible? The researchers are looking at different sets of years and different sets of countries. (Lott looked at Europe as a whole; Lankford at the European Union.) Lott uses a broader measure of mass shootings than Lankford does. Lankford looks at the number of shooters; Lott uses fatalities and shooting incidents. This is an example of how the data and definition can be adjusted to show different findings about mass shootings, even using a per capita rate.Lots and lots of choices have to be made in setting up a study, many seemingly benign in themselves. If a person wants to reach a particular result, it is easy as pie to run the numbers 16 different ways, pick the way that best supports your agenda, and throw the others in the trash.
This is why the viewpoint one-sidedness of American academia and the well-funded nonprofits is so very dangerous. The truth comes out much more clearly when there are people on both sides doing these kinds of studies, but academic conservatives are an endangered species, and those who do "come out" are targeted by neo-McCarthyists determined to achieve ideological purity.
Be very, very skeptical about what "studies show" and "experts say."
Neighbors of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook told ABC Wednesday that they noticed "suspicious activity" at Farook's home recently, but did not report it for fear of being called racist....
Aaron Elswick -- a neighbor of Farook's mother in Redland -- said that another neighbor told him "they had I guess been receiving packages -- quite a few packages within a short amount of time, and they were actually doing a lot of work out in the garage."
"She was kind of suspicious and wanted to report it," Elswick explained, "but she said she didn't want to profile."
A new radio message released by ISIS on Saturday calls the California couple who gunned down 14 people at a holiday party "supporters" -- but stops short of the terror group taking direct credit for the attack.
An announcer with the al-Bayan radio morning report recounts the slaughter in San Bernardino, and asks for "Allah to accept them (the shooters) among the martyrs," according to a translation provided by global security firm and NBC News analyst Flashpoint Intelligence.
The Belgian extremist suspected of masterminding the deadly attacks in Paris died a day ago along with his female cousin in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, French officials said Thursday, adding it was still not clear exactly how he died.
The body of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, was found in the building targeted Wednesday in the chaotic, bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis and was identified based on skin samples, the Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday.
Congratulations, France. Well done.
Now stop criticizing us when we kill our murderers.
NBC News has learned that ISIS is using a web-savvy new tactic to expand its global operational footprint -- a 24-hour Jihadi Help Desk to help its foot soldiers spread its message worldwide, recruit followers and launch more attacks on foreign soil.
Counterterrorism analysts affiliated with the U.S. Army tell NBC News that the ISIS help desk, manned by a half-dozen senior operatives around the clock, was established with the express purpose of helping would-be jihadists use encryption and other secure communications in order to evade detection by law enforcement and intelligence authorities.
The relatively new development -- which law enforcement and intel officials say has ramped up over the past year -- is alarming because it allows potentially thousands of ISIS followers to move about and plan operations without any hint of activity showing up in their massive collection of signals intelligence.
I wish the Help Desk at Georgetown Law were as good at sending me the class roster.
"In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test," Kerry said, according to a State Department transcript. "There's something different [from the Paris massacre] about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of - not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they're really angry because of this and that.
In a civil rights suit over the New York City Police Department's surveillance of New Jersey Muslims, the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris could make it harder for the plaintiffs to get a fair trial, according to some involved in the case, as well as some outside observers.
For those who need translation (probably not that many given how far "journalism" has decayed), let me help.
Evidence that terrorists were, in fact, using strong end-to-end encryption to kill people could be game-changing in a debate that has heretofore been defined by anxieties about NSA. The tech companies won the first round of the current encryption battles in large measure because the concerns the intelligence and law enforcement community have about "going dark," while acutely real to them, are pretty hypothetical on public evidence. All that could change in an instant were it to emerge that the Paris attackers were using technology specifically chosen to secure their communications from those charged with stopping terrorist attacks.
PARIS--Terror swept the French capital late Friday as a series of attacks--in a bustling nightlife district and outside a soccer stadium--left more than 100 people dead in one of the bloodiest assaults in the country's history.
The sheer scale of the mayhem--six separate attacks--left authorities reeling. The government declared a state of emergency, sending military forces onto the streets of Paris, sealing off roads and reinstating border controls. Sirens blared across the city as police and emergency workers rushed to respond.