TIME Terrorism

What the War on Terrorism Can Learn from the War on Gangs

A member loyal to ISIS waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria June 29, 2014
Reuters A member loyal to ISIS waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria June 29, 2014

Dangerous street gangs and violent extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria both depend on recruiting disaffected youths with the promise of a sense of belonging.

Because of those similarities, community leaders involved in the effort to fight extremism—many of whom gathered in Washington this week for the White House’s summit on the topic—are drawing lessons from the nation’s decades-old fight against gang violence.

After cities failed to arrest their way out of the problem of gang violence, law enforcement agencies such as the Los Angeles Police Department began taking a different approach. By engaging in “community policing” and shifting the focus from making arrests to building relationships, officers across the country learned to fight crime by finding allies in the community.

Paired with community outreach, devoting resources to educational and economic opportunities and, sometimes a little luck, the efforts worked in some communities. In Los Angeles, for example, the total number of homicides in 2012 was nearly half the number of gang homicides the city faced in 1992.

“You can’t declare war on gangs, you can’t declare war on this ideology,” says Michael Downing, the deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department’s counter terrorism and special operations bureau. “But what you can do is develop a balance.”

Los Angeles is one of three cities chosen by the federal government to host pilot programs to counter terrorist groups. The L.A. program, which Downing says is based on prevention, intervention and interdiction, draws inspiration from anti-gang models, as do the other pilot programs.

Outside of law enforcement, though, the stakes are just as high, if not greater. One of the key factors in countering extremism is keeping it from happening in the first place through prevention. “We’ve got a lot of disengaged youth,” says Steve Weine, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago who researches anti-extremism. “They’re just ripe for being picked-off by recruiters.”

A major criticism of the White House summit from members of the Muslim community, who have found themselves at the center of this discussion due to the savvy recruitment techniques of groups such as ISIS, is that these tactics will end up being a new excuse for law enforcement communities to target people based on their faith.

“We’re in very dangerous territory when law enforcement agencies are leading the effort,” says Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security project. “I don’t think anyone is arguing to take away community outreach, but it’s got to be community outreach that’s open where the hand of trust isn’t accompanied by the hand behind the back that is taking down intelligence information.”

Weine says one of the best lessons the efforts to counter violent extremism can learn from the efforts to stop gang violence is that it takes a person with credibility and trust within a community to really get through.

“You need to be able to identify people who can reach down deep into pockets where these young people who are more isolated, more susceptible to radicalization and recruitment are,” says Weine.

The Chicago-based anti-gang violence effort Cure Violence, formely known as Ceasefire, is a good model of this approach. But the most important aspect of its efforts is trust. “It’s not just someone who looks like you or shares the same language, or is part of the same church or mosque or synagogue,” says Dr. Gary Slutkin, the founder and Executive Director of Cure Violence. “You can’t fool people into thinking you’re not associated with law enforcement.”

That level of trust is why Cure Violence boasts its success rates in parts of Chicago and cities across the globe, including in parts of Honduras, Iraq, and Kenya. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which presented at the White House Summit,is working in the private-sector agencies to engage former extremists—from gang members to white supremacists—to foster one-on-one interactions between those seeking out terror groups and those who have stepped away from that environment.

Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who also works on the Los Angeles program, has helped develop a model that helps community leaders focus on providing healthy alternatives and outlets for people who may feel cast out or may be at risk of feeling that way, while also working with people who may be on the path to extremism. It too, draws from efforts used to fight gangs, but Al-Marayati notes there are some major differences between those at risk of joining a gang and those in the Muslim community who could be lured into joining an extremist group.

For one, though the threat of ISIS brought the Muslim community to the center of the conversation on extremism, in the United States it’s not the only potential cause of terrorism. Experts note that there is also a threat of militia movements, such as the men behind the Oklahoma City attack, or those based on other ideologies, such as the anti-abortion beliefs of the man behind the Atlanta Olympics bombing.

“You know where gangs are and where they’re going and who they’re recruiting,” said Al-Marayati. “In this case it’s an amorphous issue. It’s tougher to pinpoint when there’s going to be a problem.”

TIME Crime

California Mass Shooter Elliot Rodger Had Interest in Nazis

Bill Brown
Jae C. Hong—AP Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, right, walks past a board showing the photos of gunman Elliot Rodger and the weapons he used in the mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, Calif., after a news conference in Santa Barbara, Calif. on May 24, 2014.

A new report shows Elliot Rodger conducted Internet searches for torture devices

A California man who killed six students during a rampage near the University of California at Santa Barbara last year had an interest in Nazis and conducted Internet searches on torture devices, according to a new report released Thursday.

 

The report, compiled by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, finds that investigators were unable to find a motive into Elliot Rodger’s killings last May, according to Reuters. The 22-year-old killed himself after authorities said he stabbed three men to death in his apartment and went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista, Calif., that left three dead and wounded 14 others. In a manifesto that Rodger apparently published before the killings, he griped about his failure to intimately connect with women.

Investigators noted that Rodger had a history of mental illness and peculiar interests, specifically citing his web searches for “Spanish inquisition torture devices” and “modern torture devices.” Rodger also conducted in-depth searches for high-profile Nazis like Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels. In what police are deeming a coincidence, the killings were carried out on the anniversary of Himmler’s death.

[Reuters]

TIME republicans

Rudy Giuliani Tries to Clarify His Obama Comment

Rudy Giuliani
John Minchillo—AP Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks in New York in 2014.

"What I mean is he doesn’t express it"

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani wants to set the record straight.

In the wake of his recent comment, in which he said he doesn’t believe President Barack Obama “loves America,” Giuliani called into Bloomberg PoliticsAll Due Respect to try and clarify what he actually intended to say.

“Well actually, if I could express it more clearly, what I mean is he doesn’t express it,” Giuliani said. “I shouldn’t say that the president does or does not love anything. I don’t know, I’m not a psychiatrist, and he doesn’t have one and he doesn’t need one.”

The former mayor said he doesn’t “doubt” that Obama loves the United States in the sense that he’s “a patriot, he believes in the Constitution, and he’s going to follow the laws of the United States.” Still, he didn’t back away from the gist of his earlier remarks: “from the way he talks, it sounds to me like a guy who has trouble expressing love for America,” Giuliani said.

Hear the full interview at Bloomberg

TIME movies

Settlers of Catan Could Be Turned Into a Movie

Producer Gail Katz has acquired the movie and television rights

The popular board game The Settlers of Catan could actually hit the big screen.

Gail Katz, a producer known for Air Force One and The Perfect Storm, has acquired the movie and television rights to adapt the strategy game, according to Deadline. In the game, players are tasked with developing strong communities and outwitting competitors for natural resources on the make-believe island of Catan.

Katz said in a statement that she was introduced to the game by her college-aged kids and called Catan “a vivid, visual, exciting and timeless world with classic themes that resonate today.” More than 22 million versions of Settlers have been sold, and downloads have topped 1.6 billion.

[Deadline]

 

TIME celebrities

Mo’Nique: I Was ‘Blackballed’ After Oscar Win

Actress and comedian opens up about not receiving major roles recently

Mo’Nique hasn’t appeared in any major films since 2010, when she received an Academy Award for her role in Precious, and the actress now says she has an idea why.

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mo’Nique recalls a conversation months ago with producer and director Lee Daniels. “And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed,’” the comedian says. “And I said, ‘I’ve been blackballed? Why have I been blackballed?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game.’”

Mo’Nique admits that offers for roles in many of Daniels’ productions, including the hit Fox show Empire, the film The Butler and an upcoming Richard Pryor biopic, didn’t come to fruition.

The actress didn’t go on the traditional media circuit ahead of her win, which she noted during her acceptance speech. In a statement to THR, Daniels said that although he considers Mo’Nique a friend, “her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community.”

The comedian had a response to those who claim she’s tough to work with, too: “Whoever those people are who say, ‘Mo’Nique is difficult,’ those people are either heartless, ruthless or treat people like they’re worthless. And that’s unacceptable.”

[THR]

TIME Food & Drink

Chipotle Not Worried That Your Burrito Is a Total Calorie Bomb

“People can pick and choose exactly what―and how much―they eat,” a spokesman says

Chipotle isn’t about to invest in skinny burritos.

A spokesman for the chain of Mexican restaurants on Thursday waved off a recent New York Times feature that examined the nutritional value of a typical meal at the fast-casual mainstay and found a meal can cost up to 1,070 calories.

Food is “something to be enjoyed,” spokesman Chris Arnold said. “Not a science experiment aimed at engineering away calories or grams of fat.”

“People can pick and choose exactly what―and how much―they eat,” Arnold added. “We let them put those ingredients together in whatever way makes sense to them.”

[Bloomberg]

TIME weather

January Wasn’t Nearly as Cold as You Thought

It was actually the second-warmest one on record

Last month was the second-warmest January on record, according to new data released Thursday, despite the frigid temperatures that had many on the East Coast shivering.

Land and sea temperatures across the globe were on average 1.39 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for January, and on land temperatures were 2.57 degrees higher than normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Temperatures have only been higher once since the agency began tracking temperatures in 1880—in 2007, when the average land temperature was 3.31 degrees higher than normal throughout the month of January. According to NASA, 2014 was the hottest year since 1880.

While the East Coast faced a typical winter chill in January, the West Coast’s heat was more dramatic, USA Today reports. Seven states had the one of the 10 hottest January’s on record, while no states faced record cold.

TIME celebrities

Jon Stewart Threatens WWE Star With ‘World of Hurt’

'Daily Show' star says he'll bring the pain to Seth Rollins

Wrestling star Seth Rollins messed with the wrong late night television host.

A little backstory: Earlier this week, Rollins boasted that he was the most talented man in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), or a future candidate for John Oliver’s “How is this still a thing” segment. The wrestling star, whose signature move is the “curb stomp,” said he was so good he could take his talents to the White House. Hell, he said he could even replace Jon Stewart when he departs the Daily Show.

His exact words: “I could take over as host of the Daily Show and make that thing actually watchable.” Burn.

Well, Stewart isn’t taking the threat lying down. In a video posted on Youtube, Stewart had this to say in response to Rollins: “Coming after the Daily Show, you just stepped in a world of hurt, my friend.”

“I’m coming for you Rollins. One hundred and sixty pounds of dynamite.”

Well, maybe not dynamite.

“My bone density isn’t what it used to be,” Stewart says. “160 pounds of wood…like a soft wood. Like a pine.”

TIME National Security

Obama Calls for International Unity in Fight Against Terror, Extremism

"We come from different countries and different cultures & different faiths… [but] we are all in the same boat" Obama said Thursday.

President Obama echoed Wednesday’s call for unity in the global fight against violent extremism in his final speech before a White House summit tackling the issue.

After two days of talks with community leaders from across the U.S., the State Department on Thursday hosted a group of high-level international leaders as a part of the Countering Violent Extremism Summit. During his speech, Obama again called on leaders to dispute extremist ideology that claims the West is at war with Islam.

“The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie and all of us—regardless of our faith—have a responsibility to reject it,” Obama said.

In the wake of terror attacks in Paris and Egypt, and ongoing battles against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the summit has largely focused on extremist activities related to the Muslim community. The focus on Muslims has drawn ire from both conservatives—who say the administration hasn’t gone far enough to call out terrorism carried out through the faith—and American Muslims, who say the counter violence efforts being proposed will lead to further targeting and discrimination.

Obama on Thursday acknowledged that the targets of ISIS and al-Qaeda propaganda are largely members of the Muslim community and the terror organizations claim they are driven by Islam. He said that that countries had a responsibility, however, to lift up the voices of millions of Muslims around the world who actually represent the faith, and frankly, are just like everyone else. “A lot of the bad is absorbed,” Obama said. “Not enough of the good.”

Obama also said by confronting religious conflict, political, economic, and educational issues—all of which he said terrorists exploit in their efforts to recruit—countries can counter extremist messaging in a meaningful way.

The summit and gathering of international leaders piggybacks off of a call to action against extremism Obama made in September before the United Nations Security Council.

Read next: Obama Urges Americans to Keep Calm in Fight Against Violent Extremism

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME White House

Obama Urges Americans to Keep Calm in Fight Against Violent Extremism

President Obama urged Americans to use a calm and steady approach to countering the violent extremism that spawns groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

In a speech on the second day of a White House summit, Obama said the best antidote to the harsh ideology peddled by ISIS is making sure that everyone feels like they have a rightful place in society.

“If extremists are peddling this notion that Western countries are hostile to Muslims, we need to show them that we are accepting of all folks,” Obama said.

To that end, Obama took pains to avoid characterizing violent extremism as solely a byproduct of Islam, noting that “no religion is responsible for violence and terrorism.” The summit was criticized by some conservatives for not focusing more on Islamic fundamentalism, but Obama argued that would only embolden groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.

“Al-Qaeda, [ISIS] and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy,” he said. “They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors in defense of Islam … They propagate the notion that America — and the West generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit.”

“We are not at war with Islam,” he said during the speech. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

The second day of the three-day summit featured community leaders from Boston, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, all of which are hosting government-led initiatives to counter extremism. A small group of activists also showed up across the street to protest “Islamophobia” and argue that Muslims are being unfairly targeted by these measures.

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