TIME U.K.

Top Oxford University Academic Says the U.S. ‘Overreacted’ to 9/11

Apparently, the British are historically more resilient to terrorist threats

Incoming Oxford University vice chancellor Louise Richardson said this week that the U.S. overreacted to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, thanks in large part to the American populace’s lack of exposure to violent extremism, according to a report in the U.K. Telegraph.

The professor, who specializes in the study of terrorism, made the remarks during a British Council conference in London on Tuesday. During a panel discussion focusing on radicalization in universities, Richardson added that the British have historically had a much more levelheaded response to terrorism.

“The British population in the course of the Troubles and violence in Northern Ireland proved really quite resilient, I think far more so than the U.S.,” said Richardson. “And the scale of the overreaction in the U.S. to the 9/11 atrocity was reflective of the fact that it was such a new experience in the U.S.”

Last week, Richardson was nominated to become Oxford University’s new vice chancellor, making her the first woman to hold the position since its creation in 1230, reports the BBC.

Read more at the Telegraph.

TIME

Man Under Surveillance by Terrorism Investigators Is Shot Dead

The knife brandished by a man under surveillance by a joint terrorism task force who was shot and killed outside a pharmacy at the Boston Police Department Headquarters on June 2, 2015, in Boston.
Stephan Savoia—AP The knife brandished by a man under surveillance by a joint terrorism task force who was shot and killed outside a pharmacy at the Boston Police Department Headquarters on June 2, 2015, in Boston.

Authorities say he went at officers with a large military-style knife

(BOSTON) — A man who was under 24-hour surveillance by terrorism investigators was shot and killed Tuesday after he lunged with a knife at a police officer and an FBI agent outside a pharmacy, authorities said.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation into what happened said the man had been making threats against law enforcement. The official wasn’t authorized to release details of the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Police Commissioner Williams Evans said members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force approached Usaama Rahim in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood on Tuesday morning to question him about “terrorist-related information” they had received when he went at officers with a large military-style knife.

Evans said officers repeatedly ordered Rahim to drop the knife but he continued to move toward them with it. He said task force members fired their guns, hitting Rahim once in the torso and once in the abdomen. Rahim, 26, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Evans would not disclose why Rahim was under surveillance. But Evans said a “level of alarm” prompted authorities to try to question him.

“Obviously, there was enough information there where we thought it was appropriate to question him about his doings,” Evans said. “He was someone we were watching for quite a time.”

Evans later said authorities knew Rahim “had some extremism as far as his views,” but he would not confirm media reports that Rahim had been radicalized by online propaganda by the Islamic State group.

Evans said the officers didn’t have their guns drawn when they approached Rahim. He said police have video showing Rahim “coming at officers” while they are backing away.

That account differs from one given by Rahim’s brother Ibrahim Rahim, who said in a Facebook posting that his youngest brother was killed while waiting at a bus stop to go to his job.

“He was confronted by three Boston Police officers and subsequently shot in the back three times,” he wrote. “He was on his cell phone with my dear father during the confrontation needing a witness.”

Ibrahim Rahim, a former assistant imam at a Boston mosque, said he was traveling to Boston to bury his brother.

The Suffolk district attorney’s office and the FBI said they will investigate Rahim’s shooting, a routine procedure for shootings involving police.

The Council of American-Islamic Relations will monitor the investigation, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

“We have a number of questions,” Hooper said. “Why exactly was he being followed? What was the probable cause for this particular stop? Were there any video cameras or body cameras of the incident? How do you reconcile the two versions of the story, the family version being that he was on his normal commute to work at a bus stop?”

Boston voter registration records for Usaama Rahim list him as a student. Records indicate that as recently as two years ago he was licensed as a security officer in Miami but don’t specify in what capacity.

The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center said its security firm hired Rahim as a security guard for a month in mid-2013. Executive director Yusufi Vali said Rahim didn’t regularly pray at the center and didn’t volunteer there or serve in any leadership positions.

On Tuesday afternoon, authorities raided a home in suburban Everett in connection with the case. Everett police confirmed they assisted the FBI in taking a man into custody but said he was taken to Boston, a 10-minute drive away.

Authorities also were searching a home in Warwick, Rhode Island, but wouldn’t confirm that was linked to the Boston shooting.

The officer and the agent involved in the shooting weren’t physically injured but were evaluated at a hospital for what Evans described as “stress.”

Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, said authorities “don’t think there’s any concern for public safety out there right now.”

___

AP writer Philip Marcelo contributed to this report.

TIME Congress

Surveillance Powers Set to Lapse With no Deal in Senate

(WASHINGTON) — The National Security Agency is losing its authority to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk, after GOP Sen. Rand Paul stood in the way of extending the fiercely contested program in an extraordinary Sunday Senate session.

But that program and several other post-Sept. 11 counter-terror measures look likely to be revived in a matter of days. With no other options, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an about-face, reluctantly embraced a House-passed bill that would extend the anti-terror provisions that expire Sunday at midnight, while also remaking the bulk phone collections program.

Although the lapse in the programs may be brief, intelligence officials warned that it could jeopardize Americans’ safety and amount to a win for terrorists. But civil liberties groups applauded as Paul, who is running for president, forced the expiration of the once-secret program made public by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which critics say is an unconstitutional intrusion into Americans’ privacy.

The Senate voted 77-17 to move ahead on the House-passed bill, the USA Freedom Act, which only last weekend fell three votes short of the 60 needed to advance in the Senate. For McConnell, it was a remarkable retreat after objecting ferociously that the House bill would make the bulk phone collections program dangerously unwieldy by requiring the government to search records maintained by phone companies.

“It’s not ideal but, along with votes on some modest amendments that attempt to ensure the program can actually work as promised, it’s now the only realistic way forward,” McConnell said.

The White House backs the House bill. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement: “The Senate took an important — if late — step forward tonight. We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible. On a matter as critical as our national security, individual senators must put aside their partisan motivations and act swiftly.”

But the Senate adjourned without final action on the bill after Paul asserted his prerogative under Senate rules to delay a final vote for several days.

“This is what we fought the revolution over, are we going to so blithely give up our freedom? … I’m not going to take it anymore,” Paul declared on the Senate floor, as supporters wearing red “Stand With Rand” T-shirts packed the spectator gallery.

Paul’s moves greatly complicated matters for fellow Kentuckian McConnell, who has endorsed him for president, and infuriated fellow Republicans. They exited the Senate chamber en masse when Paul stood up to speak following the procedural vote on the House bill.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., complained to reporters that Paul places “a higher priority on his fundraising and his ambitions than on the security of the nation.”

Paul, for his part, asserted that, “People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them I think secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.”

In addition to the bulk phone collections provision, two lesser-known Patriot Act provisions also lapse at midnight: one, so far unused, helps track “lone wolf” terrorism suspects unconnected to a foreign power; the second allows the government to eavesdrop on suspects who continually discard their cellphones. The House bill extends those two provisions unchanged, while remaking the bulk collection program so that the NSA would stop collecting the phone records after a six month transition period, but would be authorized under court order to search records held by phone companies.

The FBI’s use of the Patriot Act to collect hotel, travel, credit card, banking and other business records in national security investigations would also be extended under the House bill. Law enforcement officials say the collection of those business records is more valuable than the better-known bulk phone collections program. Ongoing investigations would be permitted to continue even after authority for the programs lapses.

CIA Director John Brennan was among those warning that letting the authorities lapse, even for a time, will make America less safe.

Terrorists “are looking for the seams to operate within,” Brennan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”This is something that we can’t afford to do right now.” He bemoaned “too much political grandstanding and crusading for ideological causes that have skewed the debate on this issue” and said the terrorism-fighting tools are important to American lives.

For Paul, the issue represents a potent political opportunity, and his presidential campaign has been sending out numerous fundraising appeals focused on it. A super PAC supporting him even produced an over-the-top video casting the dispute as a professional wrestling-style “Brawl for Liberty” between Paul and President Barack Obama — even though Paul’s main opponent on the issue is McConnell.

The NSA already had begun winding down the phone collection program in anticipation that it will not be renewed. To ensure the program has ceased by the time authority for it expires at midnight, the agency planned to begin shutting down the servers that carry it out at 3:59 p.m. Sunday. Rebooting would take about a day.

TIME Saudi Arabia

College Student Killed Trying to Stop ISIS Attack Called a Hero

saudi arabia dammam mosque attack
AFP/Getty Images Saudi security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Anoud mosque in the coastal city of Dammam on May 29, 2015.

He confronted a suicide bomber who was trying to enter a mosque in Saudi Arabia

A college student who was killed in Saudi Arabia on Friday after halting a suicide bomber who had attempted to enter a packed mosque is being remembered as a hero.

Abduljaleel Alarbash, an undergraduate who was studying electrical engineering at Wichita State University, and his cousin were working security at the mosque in the port city of Dammam, roles for which they volunteered after a recent mosque attack, The Wichita Eagle reports. Alarbash became alarmed when someone dressed in all black attempted to go inside—women had been told to remain at home due to safety. The bomber was reported to have blown himself up, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), after Alarbash tried to turn him in.

“They saved a lot of lives,” Yagoob “Jacob” Alsarouj, a close friend of Alarbash and recent graduate of WSU, said. “What he did was a selfless act … that’s something really to be proud of.”

Abduljaleel, 22, had returned to Saudi Arabia to get married and was due back to school in the fall, according to a professor who taught him in the spring.

“I am not surprised that Abduljaleel did what he had to do to save the lives of all those people by giving up his own so readily,” said Preethika Kumar, one of Alarbash’s professors, in a statement. “In my faith, when someone is able to love God so deeply to the extent of putting their neighbor before themselves always, even to the point of laying their life down, he or she is a saint.”

TIME Military

New Rules Mean No More Outside Food for Guantánamo Bay Inmates

Guantanamo Future
Charles Dharapak—AP A soldier stands at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility for al-Qaeda and Taliban militants who were captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, on Nov. 21, 2013

Critics say the policy severs a valuable emotional link to outside world

New military regulations will prevent attorneys from bringing food to inmates being held in custody at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, reports the Miami Herald.

Effective this week, the ruling will reverse a long-standing policy that allowed inmates’ representatives to bring fast food and homemade treats into their legal conferences at the facility.

Attorneys chided the ruling as another means of cutting off their clients’ few remaining links to life outside of the military prison, where Washington incarcerates alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

“It’s actually quite tragic for the clients,” attorney Alka Pradhan told the Miami Herald. “Sometimes the food we bring is the only thing from the outside world they’ve seen in months, and they really look forward to it.”

Prison officials have defended the policy citing health and safety reasons.

[Miami Herald]

TIME Terrorism

These Are the Cities Most Likely to Be Hit by a Terrorist Attack

Twelve of the world's capital cities are considered at "extreme risk" of an attack

A report by global-risk-analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft has identified the cities most likely to be hit by a terrorist attack.

Maplecroft analyzed 1,300 of the world’s important urban centers and commercial hubs and ranked them based on the intensity and frequency of attacks in the year following February 2014. The report also combined the number and severity of attacks in the previous five years.

Baghdad is considered the most at-risk city in the world, with 1,141 people dying in 380 attacks. In all, seven of the most at-risk cities are all in Iraq, including Mosul ranked at No. 2 and Ramadi at No. 3.

According to the index, 64 cities around the world are at “extreme risk” of an attack, most of these are in the Middle East (27) including cities in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan or Asia.

Of those 64 at extreme risk of a terrorist attack, 12 are capital cities including Egypt’s Cairo, Abuja in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Pakistan’s Islamabad.

There are 14 cities in Africa that have seen an increased risk of violence, which has been attributed to militant extremist groups Boko Haram and al-Shabab as well as political instability.

Three cities at extreme risk of attacks are in Europe, with Ukraine’s Luhansk ranked at 46, Donetsk at 56, and Grozny in Russia at 54.

The British city most at risk of an attack is Belfast (91), compared with Manchester (398) and London, which is ranked at 400.

After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead in January, the city was considered “high risk” and its ranking soared from 201 before the attacks to 97.

TIME Homeland Security

Former CIA Deputy Director Warns America Could ‘Get Hit’ Again

Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell testifies before the House Select Intelligence Committee April 2, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee—Getty Images Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell testifies before the House Select Intelligence Committee April 2, 2014 in Washington, DC.

In new book, Michael Morell warns of the possibility of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell warns in a new book that the U.S. is still vulnerable to terrorist attacks, especially from ISIS-inspired groups, and that terrorists could bring down another airliner in the U.S.

“If we don’t keep pressure on the terrorists, they are going to rebound until they’re able to conduct another 9/11-style attack,” Morell told Politico Magazine. “One of the reasons I wrote the book is that I wanted American people to know that.”

Morell wrote in his book, The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism From al Qa’ida to ISIS, that al-Qaeda could bring down another airliner “tomorrow” and he would “not be surprised.”

He said America is not only vulnerable to airliner attacks, but also to smaller-scale attacks on the ground. “You get 10 or 15 guys and send them into malls on a Saturday with single weapons and have them kill 10 or 20 or 25 people,” he says. “Having al-Shabab talk about attacking malls and encouraging radicals in the United States to attack malls really worries me.”

Morell, who started working at the CIA in 1980, served as deputy director of the agency for three years under President Obama. He retired in 2013 and now works in private security consulting and as a contributor to CBS News.

TIME Terrorism

Don’t Let Terrorists Determine the Limits of Free Speech

Two Gunmen Killed Outside Mohammed Cartoon Contest Event In Texas
Ben Torres—Getty Images FBI investigators work a crime scene outside of the Curtis Culwell Center on May 04, 2015 in Garland, Tx.

Afshin Ellian is professor of jurisprudence at the law faculty of Leiden University and the author of Freedom of Speech Under Attack.

"The right to free speech becomes a hollow phrase when people engage in self-censorship out of fear for their lives"

The terrorist attack at the cartoon exhibit and contest featuring Muhammad in Garland, Texas, should be seen as an attack on America and the spirit of freedom that it represents.

At this point, I’m not interested in the political agendas of the attendees, including Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Their political motivations are irrelevant. We shouldn’t forget that jihadists recently murdered European Jews in Brussels and Paris simply for being Jewish, not because they defamed Islam. Terrorists also threaten Muslims who aim to reform Islam. Muslims themselves are the most direct victims of their extreme co-believers. For example, in the Netherlands, imams who work openly with the government to combat radicalization are being threatened. In the 1980s, I fled from Iran, and some of my relatives were executed because they were against the tyranny of the ayatollahs. Even in The Netherlands, I’ve had to have the protection of bodyguards.

What is important is that the mere possibility of sharing ideas has been seriously limited due to terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, terrorism works in this way. Terrorists hate freedom. Their attacks target our culture of equality, religious freedom, freedom of expression, and tolerance.

In The Netherlands, the 4th of May is a day on which we remember those who lost their lives during World War II. After World War II, Europeans pledged to defend freedom. It’s a dark coincidence that on this year’s 4th of May we witnessed a terrorist attack at an event dedicated to free speech, where a Dutch politician made use of one of his rights: the right to speak freely, even about controversial matters. In his brilliant book The Tyranny of Silence, Flemming Rose—whose newspaper published the Danish Muhammad cartoons years ago—asks politicians and intellectuals to join a quest for freedom and to offer protection to those who live under threat. Tyranny can only win when we accept its victory; it takes courage to be free.

Today, some intellectuals and politicians are saying: “Freedom of speech is good, but…” That but is a huge problem. The only limitations to free speech should be legal ones. Terrorists should never be allowed to create an exception to free speech.

Terrorists can’t be allowed to determine the limits of free speech. At the same time, states should combat the adherents of terrorism more effectively. We need a climate that enables individuals to remove their fears. The right to free speech becomes a hollow phrase when people engage in self-censorship out of fear for their lives. I call on European and American intellectuals to constitute a committee for the protection of freedom of speech in the Western world. It’s not the freedom of intellectuals, politicians, and journalist that must be combated but the abuse of freedom by jihadism. Europe and America must never be safe havens for jihadism. Security and freedom are closely joined. Whenever a society applies self-censorship out of fear for terrorism, freedom dissipates.

Why do jihadists fear freedom? They are afraid of allowing curiosity to flourish in Islamic communities. In the West, books are read rather than recited. Jihadists live in fear on a daily basis that their children, too, will one day start reading books. Once they do, they may turn out to be a cartoonist, the next Rushdie, an Islamic theologian, or even a philosopher.

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 White House

Obama Apologizes to Families of al-Qaeda Hostages Killed in U.S. Drone Strike

'No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy.'

President Barack Obama took “full responsibility” for the death of two hostages held by al-Qaeda in a drone strike in January.

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Obama said that Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American held since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national held since 2012, were killed in a counter-terrorism operation on an al-Qaeda compound in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It’s a cruel and bitter truth that in times of war mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur,” he said. “I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”

Weinstein’s family issued a statement on a website called Bring Warren Home, noting their disappointment

“We do not yet fully understand all of the facts surrounding Warren’s death but we do understand that the U.S. government will be conducting an independent investigation of the circumstances,” they wrote. “We look forward to the results of that investigation. But those who took Warren captive over three years ago bear ultimate responsibility.”

The White House said the same strike is believed to have killed Ahmed Farouq, an al-Qaeda who held American citizenship. Another U.S. strike in January killed American al-Qaeda member Adam Gadahn, Earnest revealed.

“While both Farouq and Gadahn were al-Qaeda members, neither was specifically targeted, and we did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

As of Thursday morning, Gadahn was still listed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list.

In 2011, a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a case that stirred vigorous debate in the U.S. over the killings of Americans fighting alongside terrorist groups without trial.

In his brief statement to reporters, Obama said that after reviewing “hundreds of hours of surveillance, we believed that this was an al-Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present and capturing these terrorists was not possible.”

He added that he has ordered the operations to be declassified so that they could be publicly reviewed.

He also praised the two men, noting they had traveled to Pakistan as aid workers to help those facing poverty.

“There could be no starker contrast between these two selfless men and their al Qaeda captors,” he said.

TIME France

France Has Foiled Five Terrorist Attacks as Security Tightens

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls makes a statement following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on April 22, 2015.
Christian Liewig—Corbis French Prime Minister Manuel Valls makes a statement following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on April 22, 2015.

This week French police arrested a man, who is believed to have planned to attack churches in Paris, after he shot himself by accident

French authorities have halted five terrorist attacks in recent months, the country’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday.

The latest was an attack on churches in Villejuif outside Paris, which stalled when an Algerian man was arrested on Saturday after apparently shooting himself accidentally in the leg.

“The threat has never been so high,” Valls told France Inter radio. “We have never had to face this kind of terrorism in our history.”

Following January’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in which 17 people died, France is stepping up security. More than 1,500 French citizens or residents have been tied to “terror networks,” including 442 believed to be in Syria.

[BBC]

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