TIME Crime

Grand Jury Indicts Suspect in Chapel Hill Shootings

Craig Stephen Hicks, is seen in court in Chapel Hill on Feb. 11 2015
Chuck Liddy—AP Craig Stephen Hicks, from his first appearance in court in Chapel Hill on Feb. 11 2015

The deaths of the three Muslims sparked outrage over perceived media religious and racial biases

A North Carolina grand jury on Monday indicted Craig Hicks, the man accused of shooting three Muslim students in their apartment, on three counts of murder.

The indictment, first reported by WRAL and WTVD television channels, accuses the 46-year-old Chapel Hill resident of killing University of North Carolina dental student Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her 19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in what police have said was a crime sparked by a row over a parking space.

Friends and family have called for the killings to be classified as a hate crime, which would demand a more severe sentence. Investigators say they do not have enough evidence to support that claim.

Hicks described himself as an avowed atheist, and the New York Times reports that last month he criticized religion in a Facebook post, saying, “Praying is pointless, useless, narcissistic, arrogant, and lazy; just like the imaginary god you pray to.”

The murders triggered public outrage over perceived religious and racial injustices as the hashtags #muslimlivesmatter and #chapelhillshooting trended on Twitter. Some users have called for the media to brand Hicks a terrorist, suggesting that he would have been if he was a Muslim.

Hicks will remain in jail without bond and is next scheduled to appear in court on March 4.

[WRAL News]

TIME White House

White House Prepares for Summit on Countering Violent Extremism

Barack Obama, Tim Cook
Jeff Chiu—AP President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection in Stanford, Calif., Feb. 13, 2015.

The summit comes in the wake of fresh attacks across the globe.

The White House will host a long-awaited summit on countering the behavior that leads marginalized groups and individuals to join terrorist groups starting Tuesday on the heels of another wave of violent attacks in Egypt and Denmark.

The White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism will span three days, with both domestic and international stakeholders coming together to discuss ongoing efforts to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria and other terrorist groups.

The final date of the summit was announced in January, not long after the attack against a satirical newspaper and a Jewish deli in Paris brought renewed attention to the threat of terror. White House officials say while the efforts to stop ISIS and other groups will be discussed, the summit will focus on the root causes of extremism like socioeconomic and political exclusion.

White House officials said on a preview call Monday that though there will likely be policy introduced throughout the summit—the details of which were not yet shared—the summit will focus on fostering a “bottom-up” approach to stopping terrorism before it starts.

“This is a moment to rededicate ourselves and reach out to communities to prevent radicalization,” a White House official said Monday.

Obama is expected to speak twice at the summit, though the full agenda of the week’s events has not yet been released.

The White House was careful to not single out any particular group as the main culprit of extremism at home and abroad, but Muslim leaders have already expressed concern that the event will lead more Americans to express fear and hatred toward the community, especially given the recent murder of three Muslim Americans in Chapel Hill, N.C. Local police say the murder happened as a result of a parking dispute, but the family of the deceased says the murders were a hate crime.

The White House says the focus of the summit will be on confronting the issue of extremism as a whole, rather than target one group.

“There’s no profile that says this particular community is going to be susceptible to violence,” a White House official said.

TIME Egypt

Egypt Launches Air Raids Against ISIS Bases in Libya

Islamic State Copts
Hassan Ammar—AP Coptic Christian men whose relatives were abducted by ISIS militants gather in the village of el-Aour, near Minya, Egypt, on Feb. 13, 2015

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt had the right to punish “those inhuman criminal killers”

Egyptian warplanes launched fresh sorties against militants allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) on Monday after the jihadists released a gruesome video showing the apparent execution of more than a dozen Egyptian hostages over the weekend.

Egypt’s air force reportedly targeted ISIS training sites and weapons storage areas in Libya at dawn, reports Reuters.

“The air strikes hit their targets precisely, and the falcons of our air forces returned safely to their bases,” read a statement released by the nation’s military on Monday.

Hours before the strikes began, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi promised during a televised address to retaliate against the militants responsible for the murder of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been working in Libya as laborers.

“Egypt reserves the right to respond at the proper time and in the appropriate style in retaliation against those inhuman criminal killers,” al-Sisi said, according to the BBC.

Fighters associated with ISIS have flocked to the group’s strongholds in eastern Syria and swaths of northern Iraq. However, years of instability in war-torn Libya have also allowed the group to expand its influence into pockets of North Africa.

TIME Nigeria

Teenage Girl Kills 16 in Suicide Bombing in Northeast Nigeria

Boko Haram may be responsible

A teenage girl detonated a suicide bomb in a bus station in northeast Nigeria Sunday, killing 16 people, most of them children.

Although nobody has yet taken responsibility for the attack, it closely resembles others carried out by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which has frequently used young girls as suicide bombers in the past. The bomber detonated the bomb at the bus station in Damaturu, the capital of the Yobe state, at around 1 p.m. Many of the victims were children who had been selling peanuts or begging near the bus station, the Associated Press reports, and 30 other people were injured. Witnesses said the bomber was around 16 years old.

More: Nigeria’s Military Quails When Faced with Boko Haram

Boko Haram, which is fighting for Islamic rule in Nigeria, has been responsible for over 100,000 deaths last year and many abductions, including the high-profile kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from a secondary school in Chibok.

TIME Terrorism

Free Speech Debate ‘Still Alive’ After Attack in Denmark

Shooting At Free Speech Event in Copenhagen
Lars Ronbog—Getty Images A victim is carried into an ambulance after a shooting at a public meeting and discussion arranged by the Lars Vilks Committee about Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech on Feb. 14, 2015 in Copenhagen.

“Still alive in the room.”

As gunfire erupted outside a Copenhagen cultural center on Saturday afternoon, French ambassador François Zimeray tweeted that message to the world.

The message conveys some of the terror that Zimeray and other participants in a panel discussion on freedom of speech must have felt. But the presence of mind that it took to send contains an even more chilling suggestion: no longer are such violent crimes unexpected.

Although Danish authorities have not detained the perpetrator or established his motives, all evidence suggests that the Feb. 14 attack, like that at the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and like several attempted attacks in Denmark before that, was motivated by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Soon after 3:30 p.m., a gunman (authorities originally said there were two, but later revised the figure) wearing a maroon baklava and armed with an automatic weapon tried to shoot his way into the café at Krudttoenden, a cultural center in eastern Copenhagen, where a discussion entitled “Art, Blasphemy, and Freedom of Expression,” was underway.

He was prevented from entering by police, but not before he fired dozens of shots, killing a 40-year-old man, and injuring three officers. For Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who was attending the panel discussion, there was no doubt about who the intended target was: himself. After publishing a cartoon in 2007 that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, Vilks had a $100,000 bounty placed on his head by the then-leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and has been the object of several assassination attacks.

“What other motive could there be?” he told the Associated Press.

The Danish prime minister identified the attack as terrorism and put the nation on high alert. Police have set up controls around major transit hubs to prevent the perpetrator, who escaped the crime scene by hijacking a VW Polo, from leaving the country. Just after 1 a.m. on Feb. 15, a second shooting took place, this one at Copenhagen’s main synagogue. According to police, one person was shot in the head and two police officers were wounded, but they have not yet determined whether this attack is related to the earlier one. The suspect in the synagogue shooting fled on foot.

“We must end this as soon as possible, because we must not get into a situation like the one we saw in Paris, where they took hostages, ” Hans Jorgen Bonnichsen, chief of operations for the Danish intelligence service PET, told the Danish newspaper Berlingske.

He wasn’t the only one with the Charlie Hebdo attacks in mind. In January, Islamist extremists angered by the satirical magazine’s publication of its own Muhammad cartoons entered its offices and killed 12. “After Charlie Hebdo happened, it was obvious that other people could be inspired by it to do the same thing,” says Lars Erslev Andersen, senior researcher in international security at the Danish Institute for International Studies. “At the same time, one of the reactions was for other media to publish the cartoons [in solidarity]. So on both sides we see the confrontation heating up.”

It may be heating up, but its roots go far back. In 2005, the country’s biggest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, commissioned and published the original Muhammad cartoons. Many Muslims around the globe were outraged, and protests—some of them violent—broke out around the world. Editors and cartoonists at the paper began receiving death threats. In 2008, a thwarted assassination attempt against the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard prompted 17 other Danish newspapers to publish the cartoons themselves.

Denmark has a strong tradition of free speech, and for many in the largely secular country, publishing the cartoons was a way to defend the nation’s key values. But for others, they were a needless provocation. “What we found is that in many instances we don’t have support,” says Flemming Rose, former foreign editor of Jyllands-Posten and author of Tyranny of Silence, about the effects of the cartoon affair. “We’ve been confronted with ‘Maybe it’s your own fault. If you publish that, you’re asking for violence.’”

In the wake of threats and attempted attacks, Jyllands-Posten dramatically increased security for its building and its employees. That may have played a role in the decision to attack Krudttoenden, says terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, who advises the city of Copenhagen on how to curb radicalization among its Muslim youth. “Jyllands-Posten is one of the best protected buildings in the country. But when you tighten security around particular targets, you’re going to have displacement onto more vulnerable ones.”

More pertinent, however, is the cartoons’ continued traction, even a decade after the original ones were published. “Extremists are not stupid, that’s why they keep on targeting this,” says Ranstorp. “They know how the cartoons resonate in the broader community, and they can use the issue to seek legitimacy and mobilize support. Thousands protested in 2005, when the cartoons first came out, and since then, it’s kept on coming.”

That resonance is unlikely to decrease anytime soon, with extremism increasing throughout Europe. More than 110 Danes who have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIS, which is itself reviving the anti-cartoon campaign. “Although the cartoon affair never died on jihadi websites, it had mostly disappeared from the Muslim mainstream,” says Erslev Andersen. “The strange thing is that the drawings pop up again with the Islamic State. A new war on terrorism started in August 2014, and it’s as if this old conflict was woken up by it.”

If the perpetrator of the Copenhagen shooting proves to have carried out the attack for those motives, it will no doubt prompt more media to publish the cartoons in defiance, and the embattled cycle of free speech and religious belief will continue. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Jyllands-Posten did not join other Danish newspapers in republishing the French magazine’s cartoons (“We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we are not reprinting the cartoons,” the newspaper explained in an editorial. “We are also aware that we are therefore bowing to violence and intimidation.”).

But not all supporters of free speech will be silenced. As police swept the building for suspects on Saturday’s attack, attendees at the Art, Blasphemy and Free Expression panel continued their discussion. “We couldn’t go anywhere,” organizer Helle Merete Brix told Berlingske, “so we just kept debating.”

TIME Terrorism

Deadly Shooting Kills 1 at Copenhagen Free Speech Event

DENMARK SHOOTING
Kenneth Meyer—AP An armed security officer runs down a street near a venue after shots were fired where an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" was being held in Copenhagen, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.

Cartoonist who has drawn Muhammad was in attendance

One person is dead after shots were fired at a cafe in Copenhagen on Saturday that hosted an event organized by a Swedish cartoonist who has received death threats of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, according to media reports.

MORE: Pakistanis Protest Charlie Hebdo Cover

According to the Associated Press and Reuters, Danish police say that one civilian was killed and three police officers were injured during the event titled “Art, Blasphemy and the Freedom of Expression.”

The cartoonist, Lars Vilks, has been the subject of numerous death threats over the years, primarily over a cartoon he drew in 2007 depicting Muhammad with the body of a dog. Some branches of Islam prohibit any likeness of Muhammad.

MORE: Turkey Censors Facebook Pages That ‘Insult’ the Prophet Muhammad

According to multiple media reports, gunmen fired numerous shots into the cafe and then drove away from the scene.

The incident follows the attack inside the offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in January, which killed 12 people.

TIME Pakistan

Witness the Aftermath of the Terror Attack on a Shi’ite Peshawar Mosque

At least 19 people were killed in the latest sectarian attack in Pakistan

The terror-worn city of Peshawar was struck by a new terror attack targeting a Shi’ite mosque on Friday that left at least 19 people dead.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters, saying it was in revenge for the government’s crackdown on Islamist militants in the wake of the Dec. 16 assault on a Peshawar school that killed more than 150 people, mostly students. The Taliban, who have also claimed responsibility for the assault on the school, threatened more “revenge attacks” in a video sent to reporters, according to Reuters.

On Friday, five or six gunmen wearing military uniforms broke into the mosque as Friday prayers finished and opened fire, a witness told Reuters. Three explosions were heard during the attack.

The Pakistani government pledged to combat Islamist groups in the wake of the school attacks, but minority groups throughout the country say they still feel insecure. An attack last month on a Shi’ite mosque in Shikarpur killed more than 60 people.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 11

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Syria’s own ‘Monuments Men’ are trying to stop antiquities from becoming looted to finance terrorism.

By Joe Parkinson, Ayla Albayrak and Duncan Mavin in the Wall Street Journal

2. Scientists have combined a bionic leaf with a bioengineered bacteria to convert solar energy into liquid fuel.

By Elizabeth Cooney at Harvard Medical School

3. A dozen states are using a smart data center to keep voter information up to date. Meet ERIC.

By the Pew Charitable Trusts on YouTube

4. Deciding to embrace big data is a lot easier than changing your culture to use it well.

By Matt Asay in ReadWrite

5. Fighting malaria is going to take more than just nets.

By Utibe Effiong and Lauretta Ovadje with Andrew Maynard in the Conversation

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Australia

An ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Plot Has Been Foiled, Say Australian Police

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan (R) listens as New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn speaks during a media conference in Sydney February 11, 2015
Lincoln Feast—Reuters Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan, right, listens as New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn speaks during a media conference in Sydney on Feb. 11, 2015

Two men were arrested with a machete and an ISIS flag

Australian counterterrorism officials say they have foiled an imminent terrorist attack after the arrest of two men at a house in western Sydney.

The suspects have been charged with terrorist offenses, Reuters reports.

Police say a homemade ISIS flag was found at the house, as well as a machete, a hunting knife and “a video which depicted a man talking about carrying out an attack.”

New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn accused the suspects of “preparing to do this act yesterday.”

Australia’s national threat level has been on “high” since last September, when news broke out that militants were planning to publicly behead a random member of the public.

The country is also concerned with homegrown militancy. Dozens of its citizens are said to be fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and last December a gunman with ISIS sympathies held up a central Sydney café, leading to the death of two hostages.

[Reuters]

TIME National Security

Kayla Mueller’s Death: Focusing on Names, Not Numbers

Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.
Mueller Family—Reuters Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.

As war evolves, U.S. attention shifts to individual losses

There is nothing sadder than the loss of a child. American parents reflexively choked up Tuesday after the White House confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, 26, who had been held hostage by Islamic terrorists in Syria since August 2013.

Details of her death were scant. A White House aide said her captors, belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, had provided information to the Mueller family, which led the U.S. intelligence community to confirm she had perished. ISIS claimed she had been killed in a Jordanian air strikes last week launched in retaliation for ISIS burning captured Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh to death.

While some intelligence sources expressed skepticism she was killed by a Jordanian bomb, it makes little difference. Mueller was there because people were dying, and she wanted to help. “For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal,” she told her hometown paper in Prescott, Ariz., before she was captured. “It’s important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”

Just like millions of Americans in uniform following 9/11, she volunteered to serve in a war zone, and ended up paying the ultimate price.

Unlike the nearly 7,000 of them, though, there has been intense media focus on her fate since ISIS said she was said she had been killed and her name surfaced, after her family and the U.S. government had kept it secret for 18 months.

There is nothing wrong with that. Individual stories from the war zones—whether that of Jason Dunham, James Foley, Salvatore Giunta, Peter Kassig, Chris Kyle, Steven Sotloff or Pat Tillman—allow us to focus on individual acts. That can shed light on what the nation is doing there, and the progress it is making. Tallying individuals’ sacrifice can lead us to conclude, perhaps in a way raw numbers cannot, whether the effort is worth it.

But, in the same way, raw numbers pack their own kind of punch. Their toll instructs us in how war has changed in our hyper-connected, 24/7 world, and how much, and how willingly, the nation used to sacrifice its young.

An estimated 19,000 Americans died in World War II’s month-long Battle of the Bulge. Storming Normandy cost 16,000 U.S. troops their lives. Gettysburg killed 7,000, on both sides. Korea’s battle of Pusan killed 4,600 Americans. On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed by al Qaeda terrorists, including more than 2,600 Americans. In Vietnam, the Battle of Khe Sanh left more than 700 U.S. troops dead. The Taliban shot down a U.S. Army helicopter in Afghanistan in 2011, killing 30 American troops.

Such numbers have been trending downward. Perhaps we focus on individuals because, thankfully for Americans, our casualties—both military and civilian—in our post-9/11 wars have been historically modest. That doesn’t ease the pain for individual families, of course, but it does mean far fewer families are enduring such anguish.

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