San Diego Professor Discusses Radicalization
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December 7, 2015 1:18 p.m.
San Diego Professor Discusses Radicalization
Eli Berman, author, "Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism"
Related Story: San Diego Professor Discusses Radicalization
President. Obama told the nation that America will destroy ISIS antiterrorism.
The president outlined this dreaded she's America is pursuing overseas and at home to fight back against the terror threat.
Some experts say they didn't hear much new in the president's speech. It remains to be seen if his words will have a calming effect on the nation's rattlers.
Earlier today, we spoke with economics professor and author of radical Alice in finest, the new economics of terrorism.
Here's the interview.
What is your reaction to the president's speech last night?
I think President. Obama and had a challenge. He has one in, yesterday's are people that in the long run it will be okay. We have a plan.
On the other hand, he had to recognize that there is an urgent threat.
I think he tried to find the balance.
I thought he came off I thought he could've been clear about the nature of the threat.
In his address last night, the president said that there was no evidence the attack in San Bernardino wasn't directed by a terrorist organization overseas. Or that they were part of a larger conspiracy your account.
It is clear, that the with them had gone down the dark path of radicalization.
They were racing and a perverted interpretive version of the lawn the cause against violence against the West.
It is not piled assault weapons and pot bombs.
This was an act of terrorism.
It was designed to kill innocent people.
The president made the case that groups like ISIS are changing their strategies to inspire lone wolf attacks of terror. Does that actually mean that ISIS, as an organization, they can staged their attacks 80 getting weaker?
Is possible that ISIS, in their ground war, in Syria and Iraq is losing.
We work very hard to studying this and we're pretty sure that what they are trying to do is unsustainable.
That does not make it weaker abroad.
What they are trying to do now is to compensate by activating this capability. They have had this for years.
That is a threat to Americans now.
What it that you would of liked the president to make clear last night?
I think there are two things. One was, he talked about them but he could've been clear. ISIS has changed strategy and is now decided to provoke us, the French, the British, the Russians through a set of acts of terrorism, look like out Qaeda would try to do.
That has changed.
That's up in the last two months.
That means that we are now in a higher level of risk that we were in the summer of last year.
The other thing that I would've liked to have heard them say is that we have a strategic vulnerability here the United States which, while we are safer than Europeans in many ways, we do have a vulnerability with the availability, the access that civilian
To military grade assault weapons or assault white -- rifles.
Considering that apparently any disaffected person can go on the Internet and become in some way inspired or affiliated with a terrorist group, how does the government begin to do that?
There are number things they can do and President. Obama could've gone through the list.
I would emphasize that you are not going to, the summer to get through.
When they do in the United States, they have access to military grade weapons, which makes even an untrained amateur, if they are self radicalized, they are almost surely self trained.
As we sell tragically in San Bernardino, even some itself trained with the quality weapon in her hands can kill 14 people and caused the injury and disrupt some lives.
What France braces and Europe crisis is much worse. They have trained jihadist, people who have experience using the weapons in battle.
When they come home with that experience, and they are all the more dangerous.
The worst-case scenario, which is not just San Bernardino, is one in which someone with experience in Iraq and Syria and Libya and Pakistan they get through the borders and have access to this level of weaponry.
In a case, we're seeing attacks that are really worse, something more like we saw Paris.
Our borders or more secure, but you can't guarantee that that individual will not get through. I think we what to see military grade weapons, assault rifles, as a strategic vulnerability inner conflict with ISIS.
The US Supreme Court today upheld the rights of state to ban the sale or possession of semiautomatic weapons, which goes to what you are talking about. Do you think this could help move gun restrictions forward in Congress?
I am an expert on terrorist but not gun restriction.
Reasonably able to disagree on gun control in general.
It must be that we can find a way to allow people to exercise their constitutional right to use firearms on one hand, but to keep assault rifles out of the hands of murderers. It does not have to be that nobody can buy guns. It has to be some with the licensing process, spotchecks, there all kinds of possibilities. We have to be creative and work with the weapons manufacturers and what local authorities to try to figure out what system will work for us.
I'm speaking with the San Diego professor, a back to your area of expertise, there has been a lot of high-pitched rhetoric about what the massacre in simply no means to the future of terror attacks. To your trained I, what is it about this attack that is puzzling analyst?
This is something that is unprecedented in two respects.
One is a woman with a baby accompanying her husband on a terrorist attacked is something we've never seen before.
The other, which is not unprecedented but isn't strangely unusual is that the terrorist attacks the coworkers, making it look more like of a grudge or workplace problem gone wrong.
There is a lot going on in the shooting. Is workplace violence. Possible radicalization, the president made it clear that it was radicalization in his speech last night.
As you said, have access to the powerful weapons. Because of that, the message from the administration is multifaceted.
That is not the message that will satisfy lots of bottled people. What do we do about that?
In one sense, the answer is that this is something we will have to be used to. It will take years. Even when it is over, there is still the possibility that self radicalized individual with access to weapons are going to be able to carry out arms like this. And expense, it is another aspect of the ability of Americans who are crazed for any reason to enter a school, God for bid, or workplace, and carry out an atrocity.
Was the message, do you think from the president last night, that this is a complicated situation? It is strong enough to overcome some of the simplistic answers that have come forward in the days after stand the San Bernardino?
It is complicated. President. Obama is good agree -- -- the people want to see a simple answer. Say you are safe. On the other hand, he has to describe the danger anyway that will not trigger panic and this is important, it won't elevate the actions of two people who are clearly disturbing Antabuse into something that looks like it has geopolitical significance. It is an apocalyptic scenario. You do not want to give them that much attention because that is the attention that the nest next radicalized crazy person is seeking.
The president urged America's Muslim community to become more aggressive in speaking out against radical Islam. Do you think that could be effective?
Yes. Of course. All of the attacks that we never see, are the ones that are prevented because the dad or the uncle or the bomb or the sister says wait a minute. That does not make sense.
If you just think about it, these are the conversations you have over Thanksgiving dinner. It does not have to be Muslims. Muslims would not get drunk.
The white supremacist, the crazy extreme juice, these are conversations that we have. You take the cousin decided you say that does not make sense. That would be an act of cowardice. That would be the last thing you want to do.
Hopefully, within the context of family and community, people are drawn back to a a mainstream path.
It seems that in the president's speech last night, was asking for that or what you just said, that kind of intervention. Also, a stronger stand by leaders of the American Muslim community, in not just decrying events that are performed by people who are doing it in accordance with the perverted version of Islam, but about radical Islam just in general.
What I have heard is very clear but I think you cannot say it enough. The idea of a modern call fate which is Johnny does not make sense.
If you look at ISIS the way they are governing Iraq and Syria, they are acting like bugs. They are extorting people. They are fascinating people. They are doing things that have nothing to do with the tradition. It does not look like the great Islamic empires. That is a point that cannot be reiterated enough to the believers who have gone astray and chosen what president Obama has called the dark path.
When I was listening last night, some commentators said that any mention of middle eastern nation participating in the fight against ISIS or other tier grips, some of the commentators have pointed out that some Middle Eastern nations continue to financially support groups. Is there any chance we can shut that support?
It is complicated. I found it helpful because what he did say is that he is talking about a process that has timelines and it with all the neighbors and all of the allies. They are looking for a solution in Syria.
This is the key problem, you anything else. You have to find a way that the Sunni majority of Iraq that is representative of them that satisfies the population, but it is not ISIS.
That has been difficult because they have rebelled against government by the Shiite majority in Baghdad and by the government in Damascus.
To get the whole thing to work, someone has to control the territory if that is a difficult problem to solve.
All the allies could do more including the Gulf states, but it would be nice to hear that they are making more progress on that.
What about shutting down the money supply?
I think shutting down money supply is a bit of a a distraction. ISIS has, it does not have enough resources in the long run to sustain a state that can fight a three, a ground war on three fronts. That is unsustainable.
It has plenty, more than enough resources to carry out terrorism are especially out the self radicalized that we face in the United States, which is itself financed.
The flow of funding is a minor issue for their ability to sustain themselves as a political entity. Recruits are more important to them.
What you have said is that you break down what we are seeing in the world and in America in two separate ways. What we see happening in Europe is more closely aligned with the organizations themselves. It would be ISIS or whatever group would want to prove by or make your attacks on the populace. Here you are saying, it is anybody with a strange idea of supporting ISIS, who can get their hands on a gun, is that right?
Yes. That is right.
ISIS is a three headed hydra. There's ISIS, the political entity that is defending its borders in Iraq and Syria. There is ISIS, the group of rebels, which came from Al Qaeda, it is trying to undermine Iraq and Syria, and then there is the first organization. They have taken two different strategies of terrorism. The one that generates a tremendous rate of casualties, where they send fighters in to attack targets, what they do in Paris and we have another one that activates the self radicalized, it is mostly the last threat that we face here in the United States because we have been so vigilant and successful in keyboard the former fighters out of our country. When they do get in, they watched very carefully.
Okay. I have been speaking with Ellie Berman. He is the author of radical religious and violent, the new economics of Terri is -- terrorism.
Thank you so much.
And be with you.
Coming up, Santillo pays tribute to the remaining survivors of Pearl Harbor. It is 1222 and you are listening to KPBS midday edition.