June, 2016 - Week 3
Authorities to release limited transcripts of calls with Orlando shooter
by Tom LoBianco
Washington (CNN)Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sunday that law enforcement will release limited transcripts Monday from the three phone calls that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen had with police.
"They will talk about what he told law enforcement on the ground as the events were unfolding," Lynch told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union."
The Justice Department says the FBI and Orlando authorities, in coordination with the U.S. Attorney's office, are expected on Monday to release a limited transcript of conversations Mateen had with authorities during the shooting as well as a timeline.
"He talked about his pledges of allegiance to a terrorist group. He talked about his motivations for why he was claiming at that time he was committing this horrific act. He talked about American policy in some ways," Lynch said. In one of the call he pledged allegiance to ISIS, authorities have said.
"The reason why we're going to limit these transcripts is to avoid re-victimizing those people that went through this horror. But it will contain the substance of his conversations," she said.
FBI Director James Comey said Monday there were three calls with Mateen.
"During calls he said he was doing this for leader of (ISIS) who he named and pledged loyalty to," Comey had said. "But he also claimed to pledge solidarity with the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing and solidarity with a Florida man who died as a suicide bomber in Syria for al-Nusra Front, a group in conflict with the so-called Islamic State. The bombers at the Boston Marathon and the suicide bomber from Florida were not inspired by (ISIS) which adds a little bit to the confusion about his motives."
Lynch also said that political correctness is not getting in the way of terror investigations and that maintaining contacts within the Muslim community is very important because "if they're from that community and they're being radicalized, their friends and family members will see it first."
"We investigate these cases aggressively, no stone is left unturned," she told Bash. "There is no backing away from an issue, there is no backing away from an interview because of anyone's background. Because for us, the source of information is very, very important."
Lynch is expected to travel to Orlando on Tuesday where she will meet with victims and their families, first responders, federal prosecutors and other community members. She will also receive a briefing from law enforcement regarding the investigation of the shooting.
Belgium charges three men with terrorism offences after overnight raids
by Julia Fioretti
Belgian prosecutors charged three men with terrorism offences on Saturday following overnight raids that took place amid heightened security in Belgium and France due to the Euro 2016 soccer tournament.
Three months after Islamist bombers killed 32 people in Brussels, police searched dozens of houses across the country and arrested 12 people the night before Belgium's Euro 2016 game against Ireland.
Nine of them were released after questioning but three Belgian nationals identified as 27-year-old Samir C., 40-year-old Moustapha B., and 29-year-old Jawad B., were charged with "having attempted to commit a terrorist murder and for participation in the activities of a terrorist group", the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Some media reports said the suspects had planned attacks against fans watching the Euro 2016 games in Brussels, and had possibly been targeting Saturday afternoon's Belgium vs Ireland match.
Earlier on Saturday, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel chaired a meeting of the government's security council, which includes the ministers of defence, foreign affairs, home affairs and justice, after the raids and said soccer-related events would go on as planned with extra security measures.
"We want to continue living normally," Michel told a news conference. "The situation is under control."
"We are extremely vigilant, we are monitoring the situation hour by hour and we will continue with determination the fight against extremism, radicalisation and terrorism," he added.
No weapons or explosives were found during the overnight searches, which also involved 152 garage lockups.
SOCCER MATCHES TARGETED?
Flemish public broadcaster VTM said the people arrested overnight were suspected of planning an attack in Brussels this weekend during one of Belgium's soccer matches.
Areas where fans watch matches in Brussels were potential targets, as well as other crowded areas such as shopping centres and stations, Belgian media reported.
The Belgian crisis centre in charge of coordinating security responses decided not to raise the security level to the maximum that would indicate an imminent threat of attack, Michel said.
Public broadcaster RTBF said Belgium's crisis centre on Friday had placed several government ministers, including Michel, under heightened protection.
Michel said extra security measures had been taken for some people but did not name them.
With the Euro 2016 soccer tournament underway in neighbouring France, Europe is on high security alert. March's deadly attacks by Islamist suicide bombers in Brussels followed attacks in Paris last November in which 130 people died.
Investigators have found links between the Brussels and Paris attackers, some of whom were based in Belgium.
On Monday a French policeman and his police officer partner were stabbed to death outside their home in Paris in an attack claimed by Islamic State. In a video posted on social networks, the attacker, Larossi Abballa, linked it to the soccer tournament, saying: "The Euros will be a graveyard."
Two suspected associates of Abballa were placed under investigation on Saturday for membership of a terrorist organisation.
Separately, a judiciary source told Reuters on Friday a 22-year-old man suspected of planning attacks on tourists had been jailed on terrorism charges after being arrested at the start of the week.
On Wednesday Belgian police received an anti-terror alert warning that a group of Islamic State fighters had recently left Syria en route for Europe planning attacks in Belgium and France, security officials said.
Bikes becoming effective community policing tool
by William Moore
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Once only used by bigger cities, more small police departments are turning to bicycle patrols.
The Tupelo Police Department first started putting officers on bikes almost 20 years ago. When former TPD officer Randy Tutor became the Pontotoc Police Chief two years ago, he brought the idea with him. The New Albany Board of Aldermen recently gave Police Chief Chris Robertson the go-ahead to start a four-man squad.
And the university police departments at both the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University make extensive use of pedal power to patrol their campuses.
In late 1998, the Tupelo PD rolled out a four-man unit that patrolled the mall parking lots during the holiday season and helped at festivals across the city. While the unit has seen fewer activities over the years, Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre sees a future for bikes with a growing number of festivals and events downtown in Fairpark
“We still have some bicycles and are looking to reorganize and bring that unit back,” he said.
Tutor saw the benefits of bike patrols when he was at Tupelo PD and after becoming Pontotoc Police Chief in July 2014, one of the first things he looked for were bikes.
“Our bikes were donated from another department,” Tutor said, “so our only investment was the training and bicycle certification.
“While it is a great enforcement tool - we use them to work traffic at downtown events and 5k runs - the officers on bikes are more approachable than officers in a car. People will stop them, ask about the bikes and just have a conversation.”
By their nature, bicycles allow officers to react and respond to certain situations better than patrol cars. There was a medical call last year during the July 4 celebration in Howard Stafford Park. While patrol cars were blocked by traffic, Tutor watched the bike patrol zip over the grass to quickly respond and use radios to relay the situation to medical personnel.
Pontotoc PD also uses the bikes to patrol and monitor the Tanglefoot Trail, the decommissioned railroad converted into a 44-mile walking and biking trail that runs from Houston north to New Albany. More than 4.5 miles of the trial is inside the Pontotoc city limits.
“I jog on it myself,” Tutor said. “The foot traffic is big every day in town and people come from everywhere to use it on the weekends, especially Saturday.”
Having the Tanglefoot's northern trail head just 50 feet from the New Albany Police Department was one of the reasons Robertson started looking for a bike patrol.
“Up until recently, it wasn't (economically) feasible for our small department to have a bike unit,” Robertson said. “The city board recently passed an ordinance limiting downtown parking to two hours.
“There was a lot of discussion about how to enforce it and the idea of a bike patrol came up. Because of the close proximity of downtown, the Tanglefoot Trail, the Park along the River and the SportsPlex, it would be easy to create a patrol zone.”
After getting the nod from the board last month, Robertson ordered the bicycles and equipment. He also has four officers who have volunteered and will be going to bicycle training the third week in July.
Before officers can hit the street on a bicycle, they must pass 40 hours of specialized training that will not only familiarize them with their bike, but also show them how to handle urban obstacles like curbs and stairs.
“Going up stairs is all about technique,” said Pontotoc Bike Patrol Officer Brad Owen. “You shift your weight and raise the front wheel and momentum will get you easily up four steps.”
While he initially volunteered for the bike patrol as a way to stay fit, Owen loves the interaction it allows with the community.
“We get to meet people in a new way,” Owen said. “And where kids might shy away from an officer in a patrol car, the kids will stop you on a bike just to talk. They love the patrol bikes.”
Norfolk police hope to build community pride with neighborhood clean-up events
by Robyn Sidersky
NORFOLK -- Eleanor Bond has only lived in the Olde Huntersville neighborhood of Norfolk for about a year, but she already wants to make it better.
“I believe in keeping the community safe, clean, livable and presentable,” she said.
Bond was one of about 40 volunteers who came out to help pick up trash and clean the streets of the neighborhood Saturday morning.
The cleanup is part of a summer initiative from the community policing division of the Norfolk Police Department.
Volunteers walked down sidewalks decked out in neon yellow vests with orange sticks to grab the trash. By the end, they had collected several bags.
Hakima King, who organized the event and has planned more throughout the summer in Norfolk neighborhoods, is a community police officer.
“We wanted to do something to engage the residents and assist with beautification efforts,” she said.
The police department partnered with Keep Norfolk Beautiful and other community organizations to reach out to residents.
Bea Garvin Thompson, who is part of the Olde Huntsville Civic League, said the collaboration between the groups is necessary.
“I think we all have the same mission: improve the quality of life,” she said.
“No one entity can do it alone. That's why we collaborate,” she added.
A few pastors who are part of a group called Men of Prayer came out Saturday.
“We want to support the community any way that we can,” said Pastor William Oglesby, who is with the Fruit of the Vine Ministry, which is getting ready to launch.
Pastor George Chavis agreed with him.
“Anything we can do to change the tide,” he said, referring to recent violence in the neighborhood. Huntersville has seen several homicides this year after none last year. “It sets an example for the rest.”
Charles Minor, with Greater Grace Ministries in Norfolk, wants to make the neighborhood better, too.
He said these cleanup events help.
“I think it does something for neighborhood pride. Build an appreciation for something – that is what we are hoping to inspire,” he said.
Kendra Kidd said she and her son came out because he has to do community service, and they walked away with a positive experience.
She said she wanted to anything she could to help out Virginia, and encouraged others to help out, no matter where they are.
Cleanup events like Saturday's prevent harm to children and the elderly, she said.
“If everyone pitches in, it helps to revitalize,” she said.
“If you start as a parent and pass it down, maybe others will be compelled to assist as well,” she said.
From the FBI
Cold Case Killer -- Help Us Catch the East Area Rapist
Although four decades have passed since a prolific serial rapist and murderer terrorized California communities from Sacramento to Orange County, the FBI and local law enforcement announced a national publicity campaign today—and a significant reward—in the hopes of locating the suspect and finally bringing him to justice.
Between 1976 and 1986, the violent and elusive individual known as the East Area Rapist, and later as the Original Night Stalker and the Golden State Killer, committed 12 homicides, 45 rapes, and more than 120 residential burglaries in multiple California communities. His victims ranged in age from 13 to 41 and included women home alone, women at home with their children, and husbands and wives.
At a press conference today in Sacramento, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer along with a nationwide multimedia campaign to once again bring the case to the public's attention.
“Regardless of the amount of time that has passed,” said Sgt. Paul Belli, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department detective assigned to the case, “the sheriff's department never gave up on the investigation. This person ruined a great number of lives, and he should be held accountable.”
During the time he was operating in Sacramento, between 1976 and 1978, the East Area Rapist struck fear and anxiety into the community. “Everyone was afraid,” said Special Agent Marcus Knutson, who was born and raised in Sacramento and now heads the FBI's portion of the investigation. “We had people sleeping with shotguns, we had people purchasing dogs. People were concerned, and they had a right to be. This guy was terrorizing the community. He did horrible things.” (Video: Knutson's Remarks on East Area Rapist)
If he is still alive, the killer would now be approximately 60 to 75 years old. He is described as a white male, close to six feet tall, with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He may have an interest or training in military or law enforcement techniques, and he was proficient with firearms.
Detectives have DNA from multiple crime scenes that can positively link—or eliminate—suspects. This will allow investigators to easily rule out innocent parties with a simple, non-invasive DNA test.
“Just like any homicide investigation,” Belli said, “our lifelines are people who give us information. It all boils down to people helping.” He added that the $50,000 reward could motivate someone to come forward. “It may push somebody over the edge who knows something. It could provide us with that one tip we need.”
Investigators are urging the public to provide law enforcement with any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem. If someone knows a person in the right age range who lived in the area at the time and who seemed suspicious or who may have had some involvement, “we can determine where they are living,” Belli said. For those who come forward, he added, “we are very discreet about privacy and confidentiality.” (Video: Belli's Remarks on East Area Rapist)
It is known that the East Area Rapist took things from crime scenes—coins and jewelry in particular. The public is asked to be mindful of that. “We know that our guy took items,” Knutson said. “So if for some reason people—whether their family member is deceased or they're cleaning out a storage unit—come across a weird collection of items such as women's ID's, rings, earrings—anything that's out of the ordinary—it could be significant.” (Audio: Phone Recording of East Area Rapist)
In addition to supplying the reward money, the FBI is assisting local investigators by following leads all over the country, Knutson said, ruling out suspects based on DNA tests and other evidence. When the crimes were committed, DNA testing was not available, nor was other technology such as cell phones, neighborhood surveillance cameras, or, in many areas, the 911 emergency call system.
Burglaries and rapes began occurring in the eastern district of Sacramento County—hence the name East Area Rapist—in the summer of 1976. The subject ransacked homes and took coins, jewelry, and identification. Neighborhood burglaries were often followed by clusters of sexual assaults. Then, on February 2, 1978, Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, were on an evening walk with their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood when they were chased down and murdered.
Ray Biondi, a retired Sacramento County Sheriff's Department detective, investigated the double homicide, which was quickly linked to the East Area Rapist. “This threw a whole different light on the rape series,” said Biondi, who spent 17 years as a homicide detective and investigated hundreds of murders.
One of his few regrets about retirement, Biondi said recently, “was leaving the cases I didn't solve.” What strikes him about the Maggiore murders and the East Area Rapist is how the subject has managed to elude capture. “It is mind-boggling that he committed so many crimes without a slip up,” the veteran detective said. And yet, one of Biondi's first homicide cases decades ago was recently solved through DNA evidence. So it is entirely possible, he said, that the East Area Rapist can be brought to justice. “That would elate me.”
After his crimes in the Sacramento area, the subject continued primarily in the East Bay Area of Northern California, where his activity escalated into rapes and homicides along the California coast. He would attack couples, tie up both victims, rape the female, and then murder them. After July 1981, no associated incidents are known until 1986, when an 18-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Irvine, California—the last known crime associated with the subject.
Knutson, too, believes that capturing the East Area Rapist is still possible. “Sometimes it's just one call that makes a difference,” he said. “If we get that one call and we are able to compare DNA and say, 'Yes, it's him,' then we have him. But it starts with that one call, and that's why we are seeking the public's assistance.”
Being a Sacramento native makes this case even more meaningful for Knutson. “This is my home,” he said. “This is where I'm from. The fact that he did his crimes here I take personally, and I'm proud that I'm able to work with the local sheriffs' offices to investigate this case and try to get this guy in custody.”
We need your help. Individuals with information are urged to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Information may also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov.
Surviving the East Area Rapist
She went to sleep that night at home in her bed, and her world was normal. She woke up in the middle of the night with a man's hand over her mouth. She tried to fight back and run, but he hit her, stuffed a sock in her mouth, blindfolded her, tied her hands and feet. “He put me back in bed and said, ‘If you move, I'm going to kill you.”
Although she feared for her life during that terrifying night decades ago, the woman survived the East Area Rapist's sexual assault. She and another survivor have come forward to talk about the attacks, how it changed their lives, about revenge and forgiveness, and how they support law enforcement's continuing efforts to capture this violent individual.
Seeking Public Assistance in the Orlando Shooting Investigation
The FBI asked for the public's help today to learn more about the movements of Omar Mateen prior to his shooting rampage Sunday at an Orlando, Florida nightclub that left 49 people dead.
“We need your help in developing a picture of what the shooter did and why he did it,” said Ron Hopper, assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau's Tampa Field Office. During an afternoon press briefing in Orlando with local law enforcement partners, Hopper urged anyone with information, no matter how small, to call the FBI or submit a tip online.A Seeking Information poster regarding the deceased shooter is available on the FBI's website. Anyone who has had contact with the shooter, either in person or online, is asked to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov, or call your local FBI office.“The FBI's Office for Victim Assistance and its experienced Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team is working together with the city of Orlando and federal, state, and community agencies to provide resources and support to victims, next of kin, and loved ones,” Hopper said. For more information about victim services and receiving assistance, visit fbi.gov/orlandovictims.
From the Department of Homeland Security
National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin
Date Issued: Wednesday, June 15, 2016
In December, we described a new phase in the global threat environment, which has implications on the homeland. This basic assessment has not changed. In this environment, we are particularly concerned about homegrown violent extremists who could strike with little or no notice. The tragic events of Orlando several days ago reinforce this. Accordingly, increased public vigilance and awareness continue to be of utmost importance. This bulletin has a five-month duration and will expire just before the holiday season. We will reassess the threats of terrorism at that time.
Since issuing the first Bulletin in December, our concerns that violent extremists could be inspired to conduct attacks inside the U.S. have not diminished.
Though we know of no intelligence that is both specific and credible at this time of a plot by terrorist organizations to attack the homeland, the reality is terrorist-inspired individuals have conducted, or attempted to conduct, attacks in the United States.
DHS is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places.
As we saw in the attacks in San Bernardino, Paris, Brussels, and, most recently, Orlando, terrorists will consider a diverse and wide selection of targets for attacks.
Terrorist use of the Internet to inspire individuals to violence or join their ranks remains a major source of concern.
In the current environment, DHS is also concerned about threats and violence directed at particular communities and individuals across the country, based on perceived religion, ethnicity, nationality or sexual orientation.
U.S. Government Counterterrorism Efforts
DHS and the FBI continue to provide guidance to state and local partners on increased security measures. The public may observe an increased law enforcement and security presence across communities, in public places and at events in the months ahead. This may include additional restrictions and searches on bags, more K-9 teams, and the use of screening technologies.
The FBI is investigating potential terrorism-related activities associated with this broad threat throughout the United States. Federal, state, and local authorities are coordinating numerous law enforcement actions and conducting community outreach to address this evolving threat.
Types of Advisories
Describes current developments or general trends regarding threats of terrorism.
Warns of a credible terrorism threat against the United States.
Warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorism threat against the United States.
How You Can Help
Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or public safety officials who are best positioned to respond and offer specific details on terroristic indicators.
Suspicious activity or information about a threat may also be reported to Fusion Centers and the FBI's Field Offices - part of the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.
Learn how to recognize signs of pre-operational planning associated with terrorism or other criminal activity.
Be prepared for increased security and plan ahead to anticipate delays and restricted/prohibited items.
In populated places, be responsible for your personal safety. Make a mental note of emergency exits and locations of the nearest security personnel. Keep cell phones in your pockets instead of bags or on tables so you don't lose them during an incident. Carry emergency contact details and any special needs information with you at all times. For more visit Ready.
The U.S. Government will provide additional information about any emerging threat as additional information is identified. The public is encouraged to listen to local law enforcement and public safety officials.
We urge Americans to continue to travel, attend public events, and freely associate with others but remain vigilant and aware of surroundings.
The Department of State issues international travel alerts and warnings.
If You See Something, Say Something™. Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or call 911.
The National Terrorism Advisory System provides Americans with alert information on homeland security threats. It is distributed by the Department of Homeland Security. More information is available at: www.dhs.gov/advisories. To receive mobile updates: twitter.com/dhsgov
If You See Something Say Something™ used with permission of the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Tools to Help Your Community Prepare
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) closely monitors attacks on public gatherings and public places to constantly enhance the Nation's security. During both steady state and times of heightened awareness, DHS engages closely with our private sector and community partners to provide expert counsel and recommendations about protective measures they can implement to protect facilities and venues. DHS provides free tools and resources to communities because the Department recognizes that communities are the first line of defense in keeping the public safe and secure.
The Department encourages businesses to Connect, Plan, Train, and Report. Applying these four steps in advance of an incident or attack can help better prepare businesses and their employees to proactively think about the role they play in the safety and security of their businesses and communities.
Download the Tools and Resources to Help Businesses Plan, Prepare, and Protect from an Attack Fact Sheet.
West Coast Marines under investigation for alleged threat to gay bars
by Jeff Schogol
Two active-duty Marines are under investigation in connection to a social media post purportedly threatening to attack gay bars following Sunday's deadly mass shooting in Florida.
The California-based I Marine Expeditionary Force launched a command investigation after a photo surfaced on social media showing a corporal in uniform holding a rifle with his finger near the trigger. The words “Coming to a gay bar near you!” appear at the bottom of the photo.
The picture was posted recently to Camp MENdleton resale, a closed Facebook group for male Marines with more than 25,000 members. The person who purportedly posted it also wrote “Too soon?”
The post follows Sunday's terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people and left 53 wounded.
First Lt. Thomas Gray, a spokesman for I MEF, told Marine Corps Times that the command has identified the Marine in the picture and the one who posted it on Facebook.
“We cannot discuss details of an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you the command is taking this incident seriously,” Gray said.
Marine officials have vowed to take “appropriate action” in response to the social media post, according to a statement released by I MEF.
"The Marine Corps does not tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, gender or religion," the statement says. “...This type of behavior and mindset will not be allowed, and it is not consistent with the core values of honor, courage and commitment that are demonstrated by the vast majority of Marines on a daily basis."
Michael Moss, the founder of the Camp MENdleton resale Facebook group, said on Facebook that the post was deleted as soon as it was reported, and the person was banned from the group immediately.
"We do not tolerate hate speech,” he said. Moss was not immediately available for comment.
The incident coincides with a separate investigation by the FBI and San Diego police into an anonymous threat posted Tuesday on the men-seeking-men section of the Craigslist San Diego personal ads, according to local television station KGTV.
"Orlando was long overdue," the post stated, according to ABC affiliate. "...San Diego you are next."
So far, there are no indications that the Marines' social media post and the Craigslist threat are linked, but both investigations are ongoing, Gray said.
7 important things you can do to keep your child safe at the zoo
Injuries and death at zoos aren't a rarity. There are several ways that parents can help their children stay safe at the zoo. Here are a some tips.
by Herb Scribner
Injuries and death at zoos aren't a rarity. Research from 2000 to 2008 found that 12 people were injured and two others died at zoos that belonged to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. More recent numbers corralled by the Washington City Paper show that there were 38 injuries caused by zoo animals between April 2007 and October 2013.
There are several ways that parents can help their children stay safe at the zoo. Here are a some tips. 1. Visit at the right time
You're not going to visit the zoo alone, so make sure you show up when you can avoid as many people as possible so you don't put your family at risk. Experts suggest going during the middle of the day and leaving before rush hour. 2. Follow the rules
Make sure you follow the rules of the zoo. This seems basic, but it's important for parents to teach their children about the rules to help keep them safe. 3. Wash your hands
There are plenty of germs in a zoo. After all, you're dealing with hundreds if not thousands of animals. Keep sanitizer on you so you can always stay germ-free. 4. Prepare your child
Before you step in the zoo, talk to your child about what they're going to experience. Have your youngster read books about animals or zoo experiences so that they're aware of the potential problems that could arise. 5. Don't tease the animals
Now that your child is prepared for the visit, it's good to make sure that they don't provoke the animal through the glass enclosures.
"It's best, experts say, to teach children to respect animals and their habitats," according to CNN. 6. Don't risk your life for a good photo
As CNN reported, it's really important the parents and children "don't dangle for a better angle." This can be applied to photos or just checking out the animals. Keep yourself within the bounds of the zoo and avoid falling into traps. 7. Respect the animals
There was a girl back in 2014 who laid her head on zoo animals. Don't do that. Make sure your child knows to respect the animals in the zoo, according to CNN.
"Other top recommendations include teaching your children that zoo animals are not cuddly versions of their stuffed toys at home but are truly wild animals that will react on instinct," CNN wrote. "That includes those at the petting zoo, who may not take kindly to a hit or swat instead of a pat."
IMPD: Community Policing Approach Will Be Year-Round
Department scraps usual switch to summer plan
by Eric Berman
Indy Metro Police are moving to a year-round policing strategy instead of shifting gears for summer.
Normally, IMPD realigns its resources in summer in anticipation of the rise in crime which accompanies the rise in temperatures. Chief Troy Riggs says the department's move to police beats in nightlife districts and high crime areas gives it a year-round model that will allow a more efficient response to crime.
Riggs says the hyperlocal approach is already forging better relationships between officers and residents, with more tips flowing in to regular police channels, not just tiplines.
Riggs says the final seven months of 2015 were the most violent in Indy's history, with more than 100 murders. He predicts the new approach will bring those numbers down.
Department of Justice begins review of Chester Police
by Chris O'Connell
Chester, Pa. (WTXF) -- Officials with the US Department of Justice came to Chester Thursday night to hear from residents about the city's police department and did they get an earful.
The event was billed as a listening session. But it really was a venting session with a parade of resident providing blistering criticism to a panel with the Department of Justice Office of Community Policing.
“It's a very candid assessment so it's going to point to some of the deficiencies in the department but more importantly what are the things and steps the department can do to remedy those problems” said Nobel Wray, who leads the DOJ project to help police officers have better relationships with it's residents.
Department of Justice begins review of Chester Police
“A white officer comes up and puts his gun right in my face.. then they ransacked my car. Nothing found in it” residents like Robert Flavor told the panel about recent stop and frisk encounters he says were illegal.
Others took issue with the lack of spanish speaking officers to police brutality. The small crowd at the Widener University auditorium
“This room should be swarmed with people. It should be people standing outside this door” said Delphine Matthews of Philadelphia. Her son was shot by Chester Police in 2014. She says she never got an official review of her son's case.
The public input session is the first step in a 6 month program by the DOJ's Office of Community Policing. After the review the panel will come back with recommendations of future changes in policies, training and overall department culture. The federal review was requested by the Chester Police Department itself. Although police and city officials were purposely asked not to attend the meeting to get a “frank assessment” of community attitudes toward police.
“For the first time, we'll see if this department is serious about moving on, building trust, community policing and making sure that they are engaged in constitutional policing” said Wray, who is a former police chief in Madison, Wisconsin.
The same DOJ community police review also lead to big changes in the Philadelphia and Camden Police departments. The task force will make recommendations early next year and will be in Chester for the next 2 years to oversea implementation of any department changes.
Orlando gunman searched for news of shooting during attack
Gunman apparently went on Facebook to measure the shockwaves his attack on a gay nightclub was generating
by Eric Tucker and Mike Schneider
ORLANDO, Fla. — While his victims texted heartbreaking last words to loved ones from the blood-drenched bathrooms, Omar Mateen apparently went on Facebook to measure the shockwaves his attack on a gay nightclub was generating.
He searched for the terms "Pulse Orlando" and "Shooting," according to a letter released by a Senate committee.
The letter detailing Mateen's Facebook posts and searches in the final hours of his life came to light as grief-stricken Orlando prepared to bury the first of the 49 dead and awaited a visit Thursday from President Barack Obama, who planned to meet with victims' families and first responders and offer words of solace.
Investigators, meanwhile, are trying to reconstruct Mateen's movements before the rampage at the Pulse dance club and are taking a close look at his 30-year-old Palestinian-American wife, Noor Salman, and what she may have known about the attack.
"The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west," Mateen, a 29-year-old American-born Muslim, wrote on one of at least five Facebook accounts believed to be associated with him, according to the letter from Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
The committee sent the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking for help uncovering the trail of hate Mateen left behind in cyberspace. Johnson did not explain how the committee obtained the information about Mateen's Facebook activity.
According to the letter, Mateen made his series of Facebook posts and searches before and during the attack. The letter did not specify what took place when. But a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly said the Facebook posts came moments before the attack began.
"America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state," Mateen wrote, according to the letter.
As he did in his call to a 911 operator during the massacre, Mateen pledged his allegiance on Facebook to the leader of the Islamic State group and, in his final post, warned: "in the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the usa."
However, CIA Director John Brennan said Thursday that the agency has found no connection between the gunman and any foreign terrorist organization.
"As we have seen in Orlando, San Bernardino and elsewhere, ISIL is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers who have no direct links to the group," Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"Last month, for example, a senior ISIL figure publicly urged the group's followers to conduct attacks in their home countries if they were unable to travel to Syria and Iraq."
Facebook had no immediate comment on the Senate request for help.
The three-hour rampage began at 2 a.m. and ended three hours later with Mateen being killed by a police SWAT team. The FBI said it is still gathering evidence at Pulse and analyzing cellphone location data to piece together Mateen's activities leading up to the massacre.
On Saturday night, hours before the rampage, Mateen visited Disney Springs, an outdoor restaurant, retail and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World, an official who was briefed on the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss the continuing investigation told The Associated Press.
The official said it is not clear what Mateen was up to.
Mateen's wife has gone into seclusion. U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley repeatedly refused on Wednesday to say whether charges might be brought against her or anyone else.
Six of the wounded remained in critical condition, and three others were listed in guarded condition.
Fla. police celebrate boy's birthday after no one RSVPs to party
Parents say this wasn't the first time no one has called to say they were coming to their son's party
by The Associated Press
NORTH PORT, Fla. — Police in Florida went above and beyond by surprising a boy at his eighth birthday party after no one responded to his invites.
News outlets report Daniel Nicastro's parents say this wasn't the first time no one has called to say they were coming to their son's party in North Port. The Nicastros say making friends is difficult for Daniel, who has autism.
So his parents decided to invite the police officers, who Daniel considers "superheroes," to the party.
They were hoping a few officers would show up, but instead, an assembly of officers arrived, even bringing gifts.
Police Sgt. Paul Neugebauer says they wanted to attend and let Daniel know that he's appreciated.
A photo of Daniel with the officers shared online has drawn attention from around the world.
FBI Launches National Search for Sacramento Serial Killer
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, and Contra Costa Sheriff's Department held a press conference on Wednesday to announce the launch of a reward and national champaign to help identify the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, a violent serial burglar, rapist, and murderer who has terrorized multiple communities in California throughout the 70's and 80's.
The digital media campaign includes a website and digital billboards throughout the country, social media outreach on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, as well as audio broadcasts via podcasts and radio PSAs.
Law Enforcement is asking the public to consider the following information when reviewing the case:
* Did they live in one of the areas of criminal activity and remember someone in the area who matches the physical description of the subject or may have been known to spend a considerable amount of time in the areas?
* Have they discovered a hidden collection of items among the belongings of a friend or family member--notably coins and jewelry--as described on the FBI webpage about the crimes?
The subject who may be 60-75 years old now, was described as a white male standing approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He may have had an interest in training in military or law enforcement techniques as he was familiar with firearms.
This who know the subject may not believe him capable of such crimes. He may not have exhibited violent tendencies or have a criminal history.
The Evidence Collected
Detectives have DNA evidence from some of the crime scenes which can either positively link or exclude a suspect. This enables investigators to quickly exclude innocent parties and the public should not hesitate to provide information even if it is the name or address of an individual who resided in the areas of the crimes as many parties will be quickly excluded by a simple, non-invasive test.
Between 1976 and 1986, the single subject committed 12 homicides, approximately 45 rapes and multiple residential burglaries in the state of California. All of the crimes have been linked by DNA and or details of the crimes. His victims ranges from age 13 to 41 and included women home alone, woman at home with their children and couples.
The subject was active in the Sacramento area from June 1976 to February 1978.
Burglaries and rapes began occurring in the Sacramento area during the summer of 1976. During these crimes, the subject would ransack the homes of his victims and take small items such as coins, jewelry, and identification. These cases include the homes of families, couples, and single women; burglaries in a neighborhood tended to precede clusters of sexual assaults. On February 2, 1978, Rancho Cordova couple Sergeant Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, were on an evening walk with their dog, chased by the subject who overcame the couple, and shot at close range.
His activity continued primarily in the East Bay Area of Northern California in 1979 and, by October 1979, his activity escalated into rapes and homicides/attempted homicides along the California Coast with homicides in Goleta (October 10, 1979, December 3, 1979, and July 27, 1981), Ventura (March 16, 1980), Laguna Niguel (August 19, 1980), and Irvine (February 6, 1981 and May 5, 1986). During the commission of the homicides, the subject tied up both victims, raped the female victim, and then murdered the couple.
After July of 1981, no associated incidents are known to have been reported for five years. In 1986, an 18-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Irvine. No additional crimes have been connected to the subject after this incident.
New documents shine light on CIA torture methods
by Ryan Browne
The Central Intelligence Agency has released 50 declassified documents detailing its use of brutal interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
The disclosure was in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The documents made public a series of memos detailing interrogation methods that President Barack Obama has labeled "torture" but the CIA refers to as "expanded interrogation" and has also been called "enhanced interrogation techniques." The documents also contain internal discussions of the legality of these methods.
In a document titled "Description of Physical Pressures," potential physical and psychological pressures are discussed to include a facial slap, use of diapers, "insects," and "mock burial."
"One possibility is to threaten to place stinging insects into the cramped confinement box with" the detainee "but instead place harmless insects," the document says.
It also says a "mock burial" would involve placing the prisoner in "a cramped confinement box that resembles a coffin. The box has hidden air holes to prevent suffocation."
In one heavily redacted communique sent out on August 12, 2002, the author discourages CIA employees from using "speculative language as to the legality of given activities" and from making "judgment calls as to their legality." The note concluded by saying "such language is not helpful."
Another CIA official wrote more bluntly in an email that the interrogation program was a "train (wreck) waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens."
Much of the information contained in the documents has previously been made public, including during a Senate investigation in 2014.
According to one memo, even President George W. Bush was concerned about the interrogation practices. The memo dated June 7, 2006, says that during a meeting that same day, Bush's then Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Porter Goss, had said that the President "was concerned about the image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper and forced to go to the bathroom on themselves."
The memos also offer a robust defense of the interrogation tactics, with one official writing in March 2005: "We believe that intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al-Qa'ida has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001."
One of the memoranda provides some guidelines for the techniques.
"CIA officers and other personnel acting on behalf of CIA may use only Permissible Interrogation Techniques," the memo says, adding that included waterboarding and forcing detainees to wear adult diapers for the purposes of "humiliation."
The memo says the techniques "do incorporate physical or psychological pressure beyond standard techniques" but require medical and psychological personnel to be onsite during all interrogations employing these techniques and that those personnel "shall suspend the interrogation if they determine that significant and prolonged physical or mental injury, pain, or suffering is likely to result if the interrogation is not suspended."
The document cache also includes an Inspector General's report pertaining to the rendition and detention of German citizen Khalid Al-Masri. The report determined that Masri was wrongfully detained for months, even after the agency realized that he was no justification to hold him. It attributes this in part to "failures of both legal and management oversight."
Another declassified report is an investigation into the death of the militant Gul Rahman in a detention facility in Afghanistan. The report details how he was subjected to constant music, sleep deprivation, stripped down to his diaper and placed in an "extremely cold" cell. Rahman was determined to have died of hypothermia while in detention.
"These newly declassified records add new detail to the public record of the CIA's torture program and underscore the cruelty of the methods the agency used in its secret, overseas black sites," Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director, said in the ACLU's press release.
Community policing efforts aim to reduce crime
Racine County police chiefs band together
It takes a neighborhood to reduce crime. That's been the philosophy of the Racine Police Department for the last two decades. The strategy is working so well they are now taking it to the next town over.
The Mount Pleasant Police Department wants to see the same success in crime reduction as Racine.
They are hoping they can take over a home in a bad area of town, and lower the crime rate.
And they used Racine's former and current chiefs to get the program in place.
'Come on in' is the message Mount Pleasant Police has for the neighbors of this house at 2237 Mead Street.
Mount Pleasant Police set up this Community Oriented Policing (COP) House on the village's far east side.
"This area was plagued with problems. We had shots fired complaints at night, we had complaints of drug dealing in the area," says Chief Tim Zarzecki, Mount Pleasant Police Department.
It's a story Racine Police have known all too well. In the early 90s the city had the worst crime rate in the state. Then Racine Chief Richard Polzie decided to do something drastic. He opened a home that police would work out of 24-7, but the community could use.
"We had a lot of enforcement activity going on but as quick as you'd leave a neighborhood it would turn back the way it was," says Former Chief Richard Polzie of the Racine Police Department.
In the first year, crime dropped by more than 70 percent in that neighborhood. Racine has since opened six homes, all funded privately.
"The entire city of Racine right now is at a 51-year low for part one crimes," says Polzie, referring to the most violent types of crime.
But when the former and current Racine chiefs saw crime growing in the next town over they took action to get the funds for a house in Mt. Pleasant.
"We had the background, we had the experience, we had the knowledge base so we just reached out to the business community business community and said look what we accomplished in Racine, we want to help Chief Zarzecki accomplish that in Mt. Pleasant," says Chief Art Howell of the Racine Police Department.
The Mount Pleasant COP House had its official grand opening this Wednesday afternoon. The village also opened a park across the street and named it in honor of the former Racine chief Richard Polzie.
Interim Oakland police chief ousted after less than a week
Mayor said new information she received Monday led her to lose confidence in Ben Fairow's ability to lead the beleaguered department
by Lisa Leff and Paul Elias
OAKLAND, Calif. — The interim police chief in Oakland, California, was abruptly removed after six days on the job Wednesday amid a widening sex scandal that the city's mayor said involved "disgusting allegations" that a number of officers had sex with a teenage prostitute.
Mayor Libby Schaaf said new information she received Monday led her to lose confidence in Ben Fairow's ability to lead the beleaguered department. She appointed Fairow, an assistant chief for the regional transit system who previously spent 21 years as an officer in Oakland, after Chief Sean Whent resigned last Thursday.
The mayor said she should have taken more time to vet Fairow and called his appointment a mistake, but said state personnel laws prohibited her from elaborating on why she felt compelled to remove him.
"I own the mistake I made. The important thing is I'm trying to fix it and fix it quickly," she said.
Two officers with the historically troubled Oakland department have resigned, and three others remain on paid leave in the sex misconduct case.
The scandal, involving at least 14 Oakland police officers, is a blow to a department under federal oversight because of past failures to adequately hold officers accountable for misdeeds that included planting evidence and robbing residents in predominantly black west Oakland.
An 18-year-old woman has alleged in multiple news media interviews that two dozen current and former officers in five cities had sex with her while she walking the streets. Encounters with three of the officers took place when she was a minor, the woman has said.
Before his sudden resignation last week, former chief Whent revealed that an Oakland officer's September suicide had led the department's internal affairs division to open an investigation into whether any current officers committed sexual misconduct with a minor.
Officer Brendan O'Brien killed himself a little more than a year after police say his wife, Irma Huerta-Lopez, also took her life. Whent did not specify how O'Brien's suicide led to the sexual misconduct probe.
Other law enforcement agencies in the area also are investigating possible misconduct by their officers. The police department in the city of Richmond said this week that several ranking officers are being investigated for criminal contact with the woman or policy violations.
Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said Wednesday that the city council had not been briefed on the mayor's reasons for firing the interim chief. But Kaplan expressed concern about the police department's ability to investigate its own.
"We have a systemic problem here," she said. "What is going on with how this whole scandal is being handled by the department is ridiculous."
This is the second time in three years that Oakland has faced a rocky transition in obtaining a new police chief. When Chief Howard Jordan resigned in May 2013, the assistant chief assigned to replace him on an interim basis served for two days before Whent took over.
Schaaf acknowledged that Fairow had been rushed in as interim chief. She said she felt comfortable inviting him to take the job temporarily after a brief series of interviews because he has a good reputation and she knew him from his previous work in Oakland, which included stints in internal affairs and overseeing the police department's vice and narcotics unit.
Her office was in the process of conducting a background check on Fairow when she received the information that led to her decision to remove him. Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa will serve as acting chief while she takes more time to find an outside candidate to serve on an interim basis and conducts a nationwide search for a permanent chief, Schaaf said.
"The leadership of this department at this moment in time is very important. We are dealing with disgusting allegations that upset me greatly," she said, adding that new leadership would be critical to making clear the department does not tolerate "unethical behavior, sexual misbehavior or lying."
"I remain as determined as ever to insure that this department has a culture that does not tolerate immoral behavior, bad judgment or disrespect and certainly does not tolerate victimization of sexually exploited minors," Schaaf said.
How do we stop ISIS from turning Americans against Americans?
by Jarvis DeBerry
Given the so-called Islamic State group's proficiency with propaganda, given the terrorist group's great skill at radicalizing people on the Internet, I don't know what our government can do to stop individuals here and there from adopting that group's murderous philosophy. We may be making advances against our enemies in the physical realm. But in cyberspace, a universe that's notoriously difficult to monitor and police, they often seem to have more soldiers engaged in the war of ideas.
Authorities don't believe that Omar Mateen was acting on any orders from the Islamic State group when he murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning. Instead, they believed that the 29-year-old American-born citizen was a lone actor who got radicalized by the terrorist group's propaganda.
If that is true, then Mateen walked a path to extremism that has been walked by other Americans – including some who didn't even start out as Muslims.
In March, Jaelyn Young, a 20-year-old former high school cheerleader and honor student from Vickburg, Miss., pleaded guilty in an Oxford, Miss., federal court to conspiring to support the ISIS group. News reports have described Young's father as a police officer who's also in the Navy Reserves and her mother as the principal of a school in Madison Parish.
Young was not raised Muslim. But she was rather quickly transformed, quickly programmed, into a minion willing to fight the United States on behalf of the so-called Islamic State. Federal authorities say Young – who had been described by a college friend as "kind and bubbly" – watched with glee a video of militants using Islam to justify their throwing a gay man off a building and to his death.
Young was planning to marry and fly to Syria with Muhammad Dakhlalla, a Mississippian who had been raised Muslim. But here's the twist: Authorities have said that it was Young – the recent convert – who convinced Dakhlalla to run with her to Syria. It was not the other way around.
Last June, The New York Times printed the story of "Alex," a 23-year-old Sunday School teacher and baby sitter in rural Washington who logged onto Twitter because she was disturbed at the news that the ISIS group had beheaded American James Foley. Soon thereafter, Alex was planning a trip to Syria.
In that story, Alex's grandmother gets online herself and sends a message to the man trying to draw Alex in: "Why would you EVER think that we would let her leave us under the circumstances you were asking? What are you thinking? We have raised her 24 years to be a faithful Christian woman. Not to be brain washed by you."
It doesn't appear that Mateen – who was born in the United States to parents from Afghanistan – was "kind and bubbly" as Young as been described or as naïve as "Alex" appears to be. According to a man who worked as a security guard with Mateen, he seemed to hate just about everybody. That coworker, who said he requested a transfer because working alongside Mateen became intolerable, also said that Mateen "always referred to every other race, religion, gender in a derogatory way. He did not like black people at all. That was mentioned once or twice, but more so was women. He did not like women at all. He did like women in a sexual way, but he did not respect them."
There are questions swirling around Mateen's sexuality. His father has said he was recently angered by the sight of two men kissing in Miami. According to other reports, Mateen routinely messaged men on a gay-dating application and had previously paid several visits to Pulse, the gay night club where he killed 49 people and injured dozens more. Does that mean he was a closeted gay man, or does it mean he was casing gay hang outs?
It's not clear. But if Mateen's pump had already been primed with racism and misogyny and anger at those with different beliefs, he probably wasn't the most difficult person in the world to radicalize. Even so, the frequency of such radicalization remains a problem our leaders have not solved.
And homophobia remains as thorny a problem for the rest of us. As our government tries to figure out a way to stop Americans from turning enemy on other Americans, we civilians must learn to do the same. Be clear. That's what homophobia does: It makes enemies of those who are our neighbors.
We've got to fight the enemy from without. We've also got to fight the enemy within.
Jarvis DeBerry is deputy opinions editor at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/jarvisdeberry.
ISIS In Europe? Belgium And France Warned Of Islamic State Attacks In Wake Of Orlando Shooting
by Jess McHugh
Belgium's anti-terror authorities warned police that a group of fighters from the terror organization known as the Islamic State group may have left Syria 10 days ago with plans to attack France and Belgium, multiple Belgian newspapers reported Wednesday. The Belgian police have maintained its security alert at level three, refusing to raise it to the highest tier of level four, which indicates the immediate threat of attack.
Fighters from the terror group also known as ISIS were reportedly attempting to cross into Greece via boats and without using passports. Potential targets could include a U.S. fast-food chain, a Brussels mall and police, according to a report in Belgian newspaper Dernière Heure.
"We are still on level three, quite a high level of threat," Benoit Ramacker, spokesman for Belgium's threat analysis center, told Associated Press. "These kinds of potential targets are under protection anyway," he said, adding, "nothing has changed in terms of security."
The warning comes just two days after a Paris police officer and his partner were stabbed to death at their home by a man who had pledged allegiance to ISIS. It also follows on the heels of Sunday morning's deadly shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida — the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, which has been linked to an ISIS supporter.
Security has remained high throughout Belgium and France since November terror attacks in Paris left 131 dead and hundreds more wounded. A group of assailants who had pledged allegiance to ISIS stormed bars, restaurants, a concert hall and outside a stadium, using assault weapons and suicide vests in what would become the deadliest attack on French soil since WWII.
Belgium has maintained at least a level three alert level since the Paris attacks. Brussels issued a level four alert after twin attacks on an airport and a city subway during rush hour in March left 32 dead and dozens more wounded.
Police couple killed outside Paris, suspect pledges loyalty to ISIS
The French president urged heightened security and vigilance after what he said was "incontestably a terrorist act"
by Lori Hinnant and Elaine Ganley
PARIS — A man who stabbed two police officials to death at their home in a Paris suburb posted a video online confessing to the killings and pledging loyalty to the Islamic State group. The attacker also had a list of other targets, including rappers, journalists, police officers and public officials.
The French president urged heightened security and vigilance after what he said was "incontestably a terrorist act."
The attack hit the country's raw nerves after Islamic State attacks in November killed 130 people, and as 90,000 security forces are deployed to protect the European Championship soccer tournament taking place across France for a month.
Islamic State's Amaq news agency released a video Tuesday showing suspect Larossi Abballa, which appears to be filmed inside the home of the victims as security forces closed in.
"I just killed a police officer and his wife," he says, adding: "The police are currently surrounding me."
The video was edited, and the victims do not appear. Neither does the police couple's 3-year-old son, who survived the attack Monday night in the suburb of Magnanville, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) west of Paris.
Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said Abballa posted the video on Facebook, and that he made the declaration of allegiance to IS in response to the group's calls to "kill non-believers where they live," and with their families.
Amaq reported that an IS fighter carried out the attack, and prosecutor's office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said French authorities have "no reason" to doubt the claim.
Abballa stabbed Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, 42, a police commander in the Paris suburb of Les Mureaux, outside his home late Monday, Molins said. Abballa then went inside and took Salvaing's partner and 3-year-old son hostage. He killed the woman, who was a police administrator in the suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie, but did not harm the boy, Molins said.
Aballa was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.
Molins said three people — aged 27, 29 and 44 — were detained Tuesday in the investigation. He did not provide any other details.
French President Francois Hollande said after an emergency security meeting Tuesday that it was "incontestably a terrorist act" and that France faces a threat "of a very large scale."
"France is not the only country concerned (by the terrorist threat), as we have seen, again, in the United States, in Orlando," he said.
Hollande later said he wants additional security efforts to be deployed and vigilance to be increased to "its highest level." He didn't provide details.
Abballa, 25, was from Mantes-la-Jolie and was sentenced in 2013 to three years in prison for recruiting fighters for jihad in Pakistan, according to two police officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named discussing investigations.
A resident of the apartment building where Abballa lived, who did not want to give his name, said police raided it early Tuesday.
Neighborhood resident Henriette Yenge, who lives and works near the building, said she would say hello to Abballa when he went to the mosque around the corner.
"He was a neighborhood kid," she said. "I was surprised it was him. It's sad to see things like that."
Hours before the killing, Abballa went to his neighborhood mosque and prayed so long that mosque employees had to make him leave. Rector Mohamed Droussi said Abballa was reading the Quran for a long time, and was the last one to leave.
"I took the key and I said, 'we are closing,'" Droussi said.
He said he is concerned about radicalization, and the mosque often addresses the issue, to "ask the youth to stay on the right path."
A Facebook profile bearing the name Larossi Abballa — which vanished from the internet early Tuesday — showed a photo of a smiling, bearded man. Two recent posts featured videos critical of Israel and Saudi Arabia. The last publicly available post was a mock-up of the European Championship logo, highlighting what the poster said were masonic and occult symbols.
"Some will say we see evil everywhere!" Abballa said in a message posted about 18 hours before the attack.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited the police station in Les Mureaux where Salvaing worked. He said more than 100 people seen as potential threats have been arrested in France this year, including in recent weeks.
France, like other countries in Europe, has seen a series of stabbings aimed at police officers or soldiers and carried out by Muslim radicals.
Monday's attack shook police officers, and Cazeneuve said they would be allowed to take home their service weapons.
"Today every police officer is a target," Yves Lefebvre of police union Unite SGP Police-FO told The Associated Press. He said attackers are "professionalizing" and can now find police in their homes.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was lit up Monday night in the colors of a rainbow to honor victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed at least 49 people. The gunman declared his allegiance to IS in phone calls to police, but his motives remain unclear.
Numbers show elder abuse a major issue in region
by Molly Parker
CARTERVILLE — Working at Shawnee Alliance as the agency's adult protective services unit director, David Mitchell has seen all the different ugly forms that elder abuse can take.
That can include physical, emotional or financial abuse or exploitation, as well as neglect. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional, attributed to a caregivers lack of means or skills.
By far, the most common form of abuse cases reported to Shawnee Alliance involve financial exploitation, and the most likely abuser is a family member or other trusted caregiver, he said. Shawnee Alliance's protective service unit provides services across the lower 13 counties of Southern Illinois. The unit investigates reports of abuse to adults age 60 and older, as well as adults with disabilities ages 18 to 59.
“Usually there's more than one type of abuse going on with any one report we get,” Mitchell said in an interview Tuesday, a day ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. For example, he said, a senior may be financially exploited via emotional abuse such as threats, or sob stories about a relative's predicaments that may or may not be true. People are encouraged to wear purple on Wednesday in an effort to bring awareness to a problem that spans the globe, and touches people across the economic spectrum.
Recognizing the problem
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, to promote a better understanding of the factors that can lead to abuse and what can be done to prevent it.
The incidence rate of reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation in Southern Illinois is much higher than the state and national rates, Mitchell said. But he believes that much of that could be attributed to the awareness in this area of Shawnee Alliance's programs, a byproduct of the agency's extensive outreach efforts over the years.
“I don't think it's because we have meaner people by any means,” Mitchell said. “I think it's because more folks are familiar with our program. We've been around for so many years that awareness is driving surprisingly higher intake numbers for us.”
In terms of reports of abuse, the nationwide rate is about 3.5 per 1,000 people, and just slightly higher than that statewide rate, which averages about 3.5 to 4, Mitchell said. The rate of abuse in Shawnee Alliance's 13-county catchment area is about 15 per 1,000 people — nearly four times the national and statewide rate — he said.
Many factors at play
The rural landscape that can lead to isolation of families and older adults and people with disabilities as well as high rates of poverty may also be contributing factors. Incident rates of child abuse are also high in Southern Illinois counties compared to the statewide average, indicating abuse is an issue that has been cited across the board for vulnerable people in this region of all ages.
In Shawnee Alliance's past full completed fiscal year, there were 886 reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of seniors or adults with disabilities filed with the agency. That fiscal year ran July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. About 53 percent of those reports were substantiated, Mitchell said. Mitchell said he was not aware of available data comparing rates of substantiated reports for the region to other parts of the state or country, which could draw a more accurate picture of the scope of the problem.
The number of abuse reports filed in recent years has been relatively steady in a range of about 800 to 1,000, he said. So far this fiscal year, which ends in a couple of weeks on June 30, there have been 896 reports filed, he said. Among the counties Shawnee Alliance serves, there were 238 cases reported in Williamson County; 161 in Jackson County; 156 in Franklin County; and 51 in Perry County.
Purple pinwheels visible Wednesday outside some local county courthouses are in recognition of these reported cases, and ongoing efforts to combat elder abuse.
When it comes to financial abuse, Mitchell said, “We have people stealing from those with only Social Security income, maybe just a few hundred dollars a month, up to people who may be multi-millionaires.”
Most often, the perpetrator is a relative, be it a child, grandchild, spouse or other trusted person. There are cases where these individuals outright steal from the victim, but more often, the victim is emotionally exploited into handing over money he needs for himself, or doesn't really want to give, to the relative in question.
Statewide, abusers were family members in 78 percent of cases, according to the Illinois Department on Aging.
In cases where felony activity is observed, that is always reported to law enforcement, Mitchell said. But many cases the agency deals with falls into a gray area where the victim wants the abuse or exploitation to be stopped, but doesn't want the source of the problem to go to jail or otherwise face any sanctions from the judicial system.
“Our programs are based on the theory of self-determination,” Mitchell said. “We want the victim to drive our behaviors and our activities. Four out of five perpetrators are family members. Often, they (the victims) don't want them to be arrested. If we directly observe felony criminal activity we are required to report it. Otherwise, we have to have permission of the client to do so.”
There are many cases where Shawnee Alliance is able to rectify a situation without the involvement of law enforcement, Mitchell said.
Cases often complex
A 70-year-old woman from Hurst said that was the situation for her. She asked that her name be withheld because of the sensitive nature of her comments. The woman said that she was connected with Shawnee Alliance at one point when her adult son who was living with her threatened her life. She suspected he was on drugs, and that the substance abuse was affecting his behavior.
‘He got in my face and said he'd kill me,” she said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “I thought, ‘Well, it's time to do something. I didn't want to wait until I was lying in the floor in a pool of blood.'”
The woman said it was very difficult to take action, but after several incidents — one witnessed by her home aide — she was connected with Shawnee Alliance's adult protective services division, and a worker helped arranged for her to spend the night in a hotel, immediately removing her from the home she shared with her son. The next day, a Shawnee Alliance worker helped her fill out an order of protection, she said.
“It hurt me to do that to him but I didn't want to get hurt myself,” she said.
After about a month passed, the woman said she spoke to her son. He did not have a good living situation, and she offered to let him move back in. But the woman said she told her son he was not allowed to do drugs in her home, and told him she could not tolerate threats. She had the order of protection lifted, and he moved back in.
“He never did that again,” she said. “I can swear that on the holy Bible.”
The woman had this advice for others in similar situations: “I know it's hard and I know it's embarrassing, but if you feel that your life is in any kind of danger, you don't have to put up with that. I can't see anybody putting up with that.”
She said some people may tolerate abuse because they fear being isolated, or their loved one being sent to jail. Her son died of a heart attack in April at the age of 46, three days shy of her birthday, she said. The woman described feeling extremely lonely living alone in Hurst. Even though she had that issue with her son, she didn't want to see him get in trouble, and wanted to continue a relationship with him.
“I loved him,” she said. “He was my baby. He was all I had. I don't have anybody now. I feel so bad.”
Orlando shooting: What motivated a killer?
by Ralph Ellis
Orlando, Florida (CNN)While the bodies of Omar Mateen's victims were removed from Pulse nightclub overnight, investigators worked Monday to determine what motivated the Florida killer responsible for the worst mass shooting in U.S. history -- a man the FBI knew was sympathetic to terrorism and had previously investigated.
The attack appears to be "homegrown terrorism" carried out by legally purchased firearms, President Barack Obama said in the Oval Office. He said there wasn't any evidence the attacker was under direction from a terrorist network, or carrying out any group's larger plot.
In Washington, FBI Director James Comey defended the agency's investigation of Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard from Fort Pierce, Florida, who was placed on a terror watch list and was looked into twice. Agents found no reason to think he was a credible threat, Comey said.
Investigators are "highly confident" the gunman was self-radicalized through the internet, Comey said.
According to one official, analysis of Mateen's electronic devices showed searches for jihadist propaganda, including videos of ISIS beheading videos and of Anwar al-Awlaki -- an influential American-born imam who worked as a spokesman for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was killed in 2011.
"He consumed a hell of a lot of jihadist propaganda" online, the source said.
The presumptive presidential nominees weighed in. Democrat Hillary Clinton called for a ban on assault weapons and Republican Donald Trump once again said the United States needs to ban Muslims from entering the country.
'This is Orlando'
In Orlando, people grappled with the magnitude of the horror: One man armed with an assault rifle and a pistol managed to kill 49 people and wound another 53 inside a gay nightclub.
Profiles of the victims
But there were elements of hope. Susan Forbes, spokesman for the OneBlood bloodbank, said 5,500 units were collected across the state to help the wounded. Blood was collected in Orlando until 4 a.m. Monday, she said.
"People want to help," she said. "This is Orlando. That horrific event is not our city."
The nightclub itself was unapproachable because it's a crime scene, but dozens of bouquets had been left beside the sign of Orlando Regional Medical Center, where many of the wounded were taken.
At the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, free counseling was offered by Two Spirit, a group that works with the local LGBT community. David Baker-Hargrove of Two Spirit said turnout was light so far but he expects that to change.
"Our community is still in shock," he said.
Vigils were held across the world as the names of those killed at the club were released and survivors described the horror of the massacre.
In Paris, a city that knows the pain of terror, half the Eiffel Tower was lit in the colors of the U.S. flag and the other half in the colors of the rainbow flag.
Earlier, officials had said the dead numbered 50, but clarified that they were including the gunman.
Third gun found
Authorities said Mateen entered the club about 2 a.m. Sunday with the guns. After an initial bout of shooting, he engaged in a three-hour hostage situation with police until they finally crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and killed Mateen.
"He was cool and calm when he was making those phone calls to us," Orlando police Chief John Mina said. "We had a team of crisis negotiators that did talk to the suspect just trying to get as much information as possible. ... He really wasn't asking for a whole lot. We were doing most of the asking."
The weapons found with the shooter have been identified by investigators as a Sig Sauer AR-15-type assault-style rifle and a Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol. He legally bought the rifle and pistol in the past couple weeks, authorities said. There's no evidence the Sig Sauer AR-15 assault-style weapon was modified to automatic or burst fire.
In addition, authorities found a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver in the shooter's car that was not used in the attack.
When he bought the guns at a Fort Pierce gun shop, Mateen went through a full background check, said shop owner Ed Henson. Published reports said Mateen tried to purchase body armor, but Henson said his shop doesn't sell that product.
Law enforcement officials also said Mateen spent several hours Saturday at Disney Springs -- the shopping and entertainment complex inside the Walt Disney World Resort -- prior to the attack, according to cell phone tower data. Mateen is believed to have been alone during that period, according to the officials.
Chris Callen, a performer who'd worked at Pulse, told CNN's Anderson Cooper he'd seen Mateen a couple times at the nightclub.
Callen said he once he introduced himself and Mateen was "very friendly" and that he seemed comfortable there. Callen estimated he'd come to to the club two times a month for a period of three years.
Four regular patrons at Pulse also told the Orlando Sentinel they had seen Omar Mateen there before. In interviews with the newspaper, they said that he'd been there multiple times.
Prior visits to Pulse are a line of inquiry investigators are pursuing, sources involved in the investigation told CNN's Jim Scuitto and Evan Perez.
Looking for terror links
The security company that hired Mateen said it conducted background checks in 2007 and again in 2013. G4S says the background check also included a psychological evaluation called the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. The company said he worked security at a gated community.
ISIS sympathizers have reacted by praising the attack on pro-ISIS forums, while the official online ISIS radio channel, Al-Bayan, described it as a "raid on a Crusader gathering" carried out by "one of the Caliphate's soldiers in America."
During the standoff, Mateen called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS. He also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers.
But that's confusing because Mateen also claimed connections to other extremists groups, some of which are considered enemies and rivals of ISIS, Comey said.
FBI agents first interviewed Mateen in 2013 after co-workers reported he'd made "inflammatory and contradictory" comments about terrorism. He admitted making the remarks but said he was angry because his co-workers were teasing him because he was Muslim, Comey said.
Two months later, in July 2014, investigated a Florida man who'd blown himself up in Syria in support of al Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate also considered an ISIS rival. The suicide bomber knew Mateen, investigators discovered, but those ties were not of "any consequence," Comey said.
Trapped in the club
Survivors of the attack shared their stories.
One person hiding in the bathroom covered herself with bodies for protection. Some entertainers hid in a dressing room when the shooting started and escaped the building by crawling out when police removed the air conditioning unit.
People trapped inside the club desperately called and messaged friends and relatives. Some clubgoers said they thought they were going to die.
Timeline of Orlando nightclub shooting
The city of Orlando is posting names of the deceased on a website after family members have been notified. The youngest person among those who have been named was Akyra Murray, 18.
FBI director: Orlando shooting probe also looks ‘backward' into agency files on shooter
by Matt Zapotosky, Adam Goldman and Brian Murphy
ORLANDO — Even as FBI investigators peered deeper Tuesday into the life of the Orlando nightclub gunman, the agency faced its own internal reckoning over whether warnings signs were missed during a 10-month probe of the shooter three years ago.
The expected review of the FBI files into Omar Mateen — including why the investigation was effectively closed — adds another layer of questions into the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
But it also underscored the challenges confronting authorities trying to isolate individual potential threats amid wider concerns over the reach of terror groups such as the Islamic State — which allegedly inspired a stabbing attack in Paris late Monday that killed a couple working for police agencies.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will “look at our own work, to see if there is something we should have done differently,” the agency's director, James Comey, said Monday after details emerged of the past FBI review of Mateen, who left 49 people dead in a gay club Sunday before being killed when police stormed the site.
“So far, I think the honest answer is: I don't think so,” Comey added. “We will continue to look forward in this investigation and backward.”
The FBI investigated Mateen beginning in 2013, putting him under surveillance, recording his calls and using confidential informants to gauge whether he had been radicalized after the suspect talked at work about his connections with al-Qaeda and dying as a martyr.
On another front, Mateen's apparent previous connections to the Pulse nightclub and gay online sites brought new signals into the investigation. At least two people told The Washington Post that Mateen had visited the popular club, and one of the witnesses — Kevin West, a 37-year-old Navy veteran — said Mateen had made contact with him on Jack'd, a dating app for men.
The political fallout from Orlando, meanwhile, moved onto the world stage even as it overshadowed the U.S. presidential race. The top U.N. human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, called on American authorities to adopt “robust gun control measures.”
“It is hard to find a rational justification that explains the ease with which people can buy firearms, including assault rifles, in spite of prior criminal backgrounds, drug use, histories of domestic violence and mental illness, or direct contact with extremists – both domestic and foreign,” the chief of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.
As part of the FBI investigation, Mateen was placed on a terrorism watch list and interviewed twice before the probe was closed in March 2014 because agents concluded he was not a threat, the FBI director Comey said Monday in an interview with reporters at bureau headquarters.
Several months later, in July 2014, Mateen surfaced in another investigation into the first American to die as a suicide bomber in Syria, a fellow Floridian. And, again, investigators moved on.
It was the third time — following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and a planned attack last year on a contest to draw the prophet Muhammad — that someone who had been scrutinized by the FBI later carried out a terrorist attack.
Comey said that during the three-hour standoff the gunman had with Orlando police officers, there were three different 911-related calls with him. The gunman called 911 at about 2:30 a.m., about half an hour after opening fire, and then hung up the phone. Mateen then called a second time and spoke briefly to a dispatcher before hanging up again, and then the dispatcher called him back and they spoke briefly.
“During the calls, he said he was doing this for the leader of ISIL, who he named and pledged loyalty to,” said Comey, using an another acronym for the group known as the Islamic State.
However, Comey said there were no signs that Mateen was directly tied to any kind of network, and he added that it remained unclear exactly which extremist group he supported. In addition to pledging allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State, Comey noted, Mateen referred to a link to its rival, al-Qaeda — an American's suicide bombing in Syria. He also expressed solidarity with the Boston Marathon bombers.
President Obama said that the shooting appeared so far to be a case of “homegrown extremism.”
“We see no clear evidence that he was directed externally,” Obama said during remarks in the Oval Office. “It does appear that at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL. But there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed by ISIL, and at this stage there's no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot.”
Law enforcement officials in Florida, meanwhile, offered a new accounting of the shootout. Orlando Police Chief John Mina said that police first encountered Mateen shortly after the initial gunfire at about 2 a.m., when an off-duty officer working at the club exchanged shots with Mateen.
Additional officers called to the scene soon joined in another gun battle, at which point Mateen retreated farther into the building and, eventually, into a bathroom. The police then held back because there were no more gunshots, Mina said, and they tried to negotiate with Mateen to avoid any more bloodshed.
Mateen had been in a bathroom with four or five people, while an additional another 15 or 20 were in another bathroom, Mina said. During these negotiations, Mateen was “cool and calm” and did not make many demands, Mina said.
After about three hours, police said they decided to storm the building after the shooter mentioned bomb belts or explosives. Mina said the police used explosives and then an armored Bearcat to break a hole in the club's wall. Hostages poured out, and Mateen — armed with a pair of guns — came out as well.
During the gun battle, Mateen was killed and one Orlando police officer was injured when a bullet struck his Kevlar helmet.
However, much still remains unclear, including whether any hostages were might have been injured or killed by crossfire.
In a news conference Monday, Mina said storming the building “was the right decision to make” because police thought other lives might be in danger.
Authorities said the investigation into Mateen has expanded to look at other people and stretches from Florida to Kabul. Mateen's family is originally from Afghanistan, but he was born in New York and lived for many years in Florida.
Comey said Mateen, who worked as a contract security guard at a local courthouse, claimed in 2013 to co-workers that he had family connections to al-Qaeda and was a member of Hezbollah, two opposing terrorist groups that have clashed repeatedly in Syria.
The FBI director called the comments “inflammatory and contradictory.”
Comey said that Mateen also told colleagues that he had mutual acquaintances with the Tsarnaev brothers, who were responsible for the Boston bombings. He spoke of a martyr's death. Co-workers brought his claims to the attention of the local sheriff's department, which passed them along to the FBI.
The FBI opened what is known as a preliminary investigation — one of hundreds that the bureau handles at any one time and that typically last six months. Comey said the investigation was extended once with the approval of an FBI supervisor at the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Miami.
When interviewed by the FBI, Mateen claimed he made the statements in anger because his co-workers were teasing him about being a Muslim and he felt discriminated against.
“The evidence developed during the investigation was consistent with his explanation that he had said these things to try to freak out his co-workers,” Comey said.
The investigation was closed.
“As I would hope the American people would want, we don't keep people under investigation indefinitely,” Comey said. “If .?.?. we don't see predication for continuing it, then we close it.”
During the period of the investigation, Mateen was placed in a terrorism database, but Comey declined to say whether the bureau it also put him on the no-fly list.
The FBI also learned that he had traveled to Saudi Arabia in March of 2011 to make a pilgrimage and again in March of 2012. Comey said the Saudis assisted the FBI investigation but didn't turn up anything.
Mateen's name next surfaced as part of the investigation into Moner Mohammad Abusalha, believed to be the first American to launch a suicide bombing in Syria. Abusalha prayed at the same Fort Pierce, Fla., mosque that Mateen attended, friends and authorities said.
A witness told the FBI he had become concerned about Mateen, who had been watching videos of a radical cleric, named Anwar al-Awlaki, who was a top leader and propagandist in al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen. Awlaki's rhetoric has been implicated in numerous terrorist attacks, including the 2009 Fort Hood shooting in which 13 people were killed shot dead by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan.
But the witness stopped worrying when Mateen started a relationship, had a child and found steady employment as a security guard.
The FBI questioned Mateen again but found no reason to reopen an investigation.
Comey said the FBI had found nothing in Mateen's past that would have legally blocked him from purchasing a gun.
Mateen purchased two weapons from the St. Lucie Shooting Center, shop owner Ed Henson said at a news conference Monday.
“An evil person came in here and legally purchased two firearms from us,” Henson said, adding that Mateen had multiple security licenses and passed a full background check before he was allowed to buy the guns.
Henson said that if Mateen hadn't bought the guns at his shop, he would have been able to buy them somewhere else.
“We happened to be the gun store he picked. It's horrible,” said Henson, who spent two decades with the New York Police Department before retiring in 2002. “I'm sorry he picked my place. I wish he'd picked nowhere.”
Admit It: These Terrorists Are Muslims
by Maajid Nawaz
LONDON — The atrocious attack in Orlando, Florida, was an act of ISIS-inspired jihadist terrorism that targeted gays . It must concern us all.
Before any of our assumed multiple identities, we are human beings first and foremost. You don't have to be black to condemn racism, nor Jewish to condemn anti-Semitism, nor Muslim to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry, and you certainly don't have to be gay to condemn the evil that just descended upon Orlando.
A puerile response by some of my fellow Muslims is to ask “why should we apologize for something that has nothing to do with us.” But this entirely misses the point.
Just as we Muslims expect solidarity from wider society against anti-Muslim bigotry and racism, likewise we must reciprocate solidarity toward victims of Islamist extremism. Just as we encourage others to actively denounce racism wherever they see it, so too must we actively denounce Islamist theocratic views wherever we find them.
Enough with the special pleading. Enough with the denial. Enough with the obfuscation.
The killer of Orlando was a homophobic Muslim extremist, inspired by an ideological take on my own religion, Islam. In just the first seven days of this holy month of Ramadan, various jihadists have carried out attacks in Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Damascus, Idlib, Beirut, Orlando, and now Paris.
This global jihadist insurgency threatens every corner of the world and has killed more Muslims than members any other faith. So why pretend it does not exist? Why shy away from calling it by name?
So far do many of us liberals go in denying the problem, that we're happy to stigmatize other vulnerable minorities in the process. “He was not a Muslim, he was nothing but a mad lunatic,” we cry in exasperation. As if those with mental health issues are somehow automatically predisposed to murder, or immune to manipulation and exploitation by cynical Islamists and jihadists.
Then there's that other old tactic to try and avoid discussing the Islamist ideology. “He wasn't from the Muslim community,” we proclaim. “He was acting in isolation, a lone wolf.”
Apart from the fact that research highlights how incredibly rare it is for jihadists to act in a vacuum, we need look no further than the Orlando attacker Omar Mateen's father, who praised the Taliban as “warriors” to realize this avoidance tactic for what it is. Clearly Omar Mateen had moved in an atmosphere that glorified jihadist ideology.
“But it must be foreign policy in Afghanistan,” we naively protest. Albeit better than China's, Russia's, Saudi Arabia's, Iran's and most other undemocratic countries in the world, yes our foreign and domestic policies have their flaws. But what did gays in the Pulse nightclub have to do with any of that? Or the gays that ISIS regularly throws off the tallest buildings in Syria, for that matter?
It is time that we liberals took the fabled red pill and accepted reality. Just as this clearly has something to do with outdated gun laws, and just as those laws need reform, this also has something to do with Islam, which also needs reform today. No other stance makes any sense.
Poll after poll of British Muslims has revealed statistically significant levels of homophobic opinion. A 2009 poll by Gallup found that 0 percent of Britain's Muslims believed homosexual acts to be morally acceptable. Despite polling methodology, what previous polls have shown us time and again is more of the same. In a 2013 Pew poll Muslims overwhelmingly say that homosexual behavior is morally wrong, including three-quarters or more in 33 of the 36 countries where the question was asked.
The latest ICM poll from April 2016 asked a slightly different question about whether being gay should be legal. Over half of British Muslims surveyed said they supported making homosexual acts illegal. It did not used to be like this, so what happened?
Liberals who claim that this has nothing to do with Islam today are being as unhelpful and as ignorant as conservatives who claim that this represents all of Islam. The problem so obviously has something to do with Islam. That something is Islamism, or the desire to impose any version of Islam over any society. Jihadism is the attempt to do so by force. This ideology of Islamism has been rising almost unchecked among Muslims for decades. It is a theocratic ideology, and theocracy should no longer have any place in the world today.
But it is as if we liberals will stoop to anything to avoid discussing ideology. We will initiate state sanctioned presidential kill lists and launch unaccountable targeted assassinations. Yet, no amount of drone strikes under Obama—at a rate that far exceeds Bush—will ever solve the problem. We cannot shoot our way out of an ideology. We cannot arrest our way out of an insurgency. Yes, law and war have their own place, but they will never solve the problem.
In the long run, only reducing the local appeal of this ideology will solve the problem. Whereas Islam today requires reform, the Islamist ideology must be intellectually terminated. To do so requires first acknowledging it exists, isolating it from Muslims, devising a strategy to challenge it, and then backing the voices that do.
As I argued in a TV debate with Fareed Zakaria, the danger of not doing so is twofold. Within the Muslim context, it is a betrayal of those liberal reforming Muslims who risk everything daily. These are feminist Muslims, gay Muslims, ex-Muslims, dissenting liberal and secular Muslim voices, persecuted minority sects among Muslims, the Ismailis, the Ahmedis and the Shia—all these different minorities within the minority of the Muslim community—they are immediately betrayed by our silence.
By shutting down the conversation about Islamist extremism we deprive them of the lexicon to deploy against those who are attempting to silence their progressive efforts within their own communities. We surrender their identity of Islam to the extremists.
The second danger is in the non-Muslim context. What happens if we don't name the Islamist ideology and distinguish it from Islam? We leave a void for the vast majority of Americans—who are unaware of the nuances in this debate—to be filled by Donald Trump and the Populist Right. They will go on to blame all versions of Islam and every Muslim, and their frustration at not being able to talk about the problem will give in to rage, as it has done. By refusing to discuss it, we only increase the hysteria. Like “he who must not be named”—the Voldemort Effect, I call it—we increase the fear.
So this is my appeal to President Obama, Hillary Clinton and to all liberals and Muslims, for humanity's sake let's stop playing politics with evil. Just as this so obviously has something to do with lax gun laws, it so clearly has something to do with Islam. Hillary Clinton nearly conceded as much after these recent attacks. But liberals must own this debate, not merely appear to be defensively reacting to Trump's agenda.
This September will mark 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, and we still haven't devised a strategy to address Islamist extremism, let alone identified voices who can do so globally. Not al-Qaeda, not ISIS, nor any other theocratic jihadist group that may emerge in the future, but a strategy that recognizes we are in the middle of a Cold War against theocracy. If we refuse to isolate, name and shame Islamist extremism, from fear of increasing anti-Muslim bigotry, we only increase anti-Muslim bigotry. If the rise of Trump has not convinced us of this yet, then nothing will.
Islamic State radio: Orlando shooter a 'soldier of the caliphate'
by Cody Dulaney and John Bacon
The attack, which happened early Sunday at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Federal authorities identified the shooter as Omar Mateen, 29, a New York-born resident of Fort Pierce, Fla., who worked for the security firm G4S. He was killed by police. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said 53 people were wounded.
Mateen acknowledged his support for the Islamic State group during a 911 call to local law enforcement from the nightclub, Orlando FBI chief Ron Hopper said. Investigators have yet to determine whether the extremist group had any direct role in the attack.
Hopper said agents had investigated Mateen in 2013 and again in 2014 regarding terror threats, but lacked sufficient evidence in both cases to pursue charges. Mateen was of Afghan descent, according to media reports.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the tragedy began unfolding at 2:02 a.m., when three police officers engaged the suspect in a gun battle outside the club. A hostage situation then took place inside, and a SWAT team was called in, Mina said. Police received updates from patrons trapped in the club, and decided to storm the club at about 5 a.m. ET.
President Obama said the crime shows once again how easy it is for someone to get a weapon for use in a mass killing. He also expressed condolences to the families of the victims.
"The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub, it was a place of solidarity, empowerment, where people come together to raise awareness," he said.
The suspect's father, Mir Seddique Mateen, told NBC News on Sunday that he was shocked by the news, but that his son had recently expressed anti-gay sentiments. He said the attack "had nothing to do with religion."
G4S issued a statement expressing shock and sadness at the "unspeakable tragedy." The firm said Mateen had been employed since September 10, 2007, and that G4S was cooperating fully with the investigation.
Tributes poured in from around the world. James Corden, the host of the Tony Awards, opened the show Sunday with a tribute to the victims.
The organizers of the Pride in London event said a minute's reflection will take place at the event on June 25. Revelers had been celebrating Gay Pride month across Orlando for nearly two weeks.
Sadiq Khan, who was elected London's first Muslim mayor last month, said in a Facebook statement: “Londoners across our city stand shoulder to shoulder alongside our brothers and sisters in Orlando. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all the victims of this horrific attack. ?#?lovewins”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the victims.
The Orlando Shootings and American Muslims
by Robin Wright
Hena Khan, the author of best-selling children's books, thought Muhammad Ali's funeral on Friday was going to be a turning point for American Muslims. “Ali spent his life trying to show the real Islam—battling Islamophobia even as he battled Parkinson's disease. That's what was highlighted after he died,” she told me this weekend. “It was nice to feel proud—and to see people saying ‘Allahu Akbar' interpreted in a positive way.”
On Saturday, Khan was herself honored for the publication of “It's Ramadan, Curious George,” a groundbreaking new book that also tries to span the cultural chasm for a new generation. The Diyanet Center of America packed its auditorium with kids and their parents to hear Khan read from her book. In this latest spinoff, the mischievous simian learns from his friend Kareem about the sacred Muslim month of fasting, good deeds, contemplation, and evening feasts. Together, they help with a food drive for charity. George gets up to his usual antics, this time planning a good deed to donate all the shoes that Muslims leave outside a mosque when they go in to pray, only to be stopped in the nick of time. In the evening, George and Kareem break the fast together with pizza and chocolate-covered bananas. In honor of Ramadan, The Man in the Yellow Hat—the caregiver who brought Curious George to America seventy-five years ago—dons a yellow fez.
At the end of Khan's reading, a teen-ager dressed as Curious George raced down the aisles, onto the stage, and fist-bumped Khan. The kids went wild. “It was a weekend of hope and feeling inspired,” Khan told me. “It was a time of reaffirmation,” especially during the first week of Ramadan.
On Sunday, Khan woke up and, as is her habit, checked the news on her cell phone before waking her family. It was consumed with the killings at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. “First it was twenty people, then fifty,” she told me. “I thought, Not another shooting! When is this going to stop? This is insanity.
“Then I saw the name,” Khan said, her voice choking back sobs. Omar Mateen, the lone gunman in the largest terrorist attack in the United States since the September 11th attacks, in 2001, is an Afghan-American. Khan is Pakistani-American. Both are second-generation. Mateen, who was twenty-nine, was born in New York and later moved to Florida. Khan, who is forty-two, grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and now lives with her husband and two children in the Maryland suburb of Rockville.
“It added a whole new layer of anguish,” she told me. “I bore this tragedy as much as any American, and then to see his name. You can't even find the words. It's unbelievable. And during Ramadan! As a Muslim, your heart sinks.”
Ramadan runs from June 6th until July 5th. The timing is based on Islam's lunar calendar, which shifts by eleven days each year. Last month, Muhammad al-Adnani, the ISIS spokesman, released a video calling on other jihadists “to make it a month of calamity everywhere for non-believers . . . especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.” A State Department report warned that a jihadi sacrifice during Ramadan “can be considered more valuable than that made at other times, so a call to martyrdom during the month may hold a special allure to some.”
Muslim groups across the United States rushed to condemn the attacks. Standing with Orlando officials, Muhammad Musri, the president and imam of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, called the attack “monstrous.” He appealed to Muslims to donate blood for the wounded and to co ö perate with Florida police and the F.B.I. At a hastily organized press conference in Washington, Nihad Awad, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil-rights and advocacy organization in the United States, scolded ISIS. “You do not speak for us,” he said. “You do not represent us. You are an aberration. You are outlaws.” He went on, “They don't speak for our faith. They claim to, but 1.7 billion people are united in rejecting their extremism and their acts of senseless violence.”
Awad also pledged to stand with the gay community. “For many years, members of the L.G.B.T.Q.I. community have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community against any acts of hate crimes, Islamophobia, marginalization, and discrimination. Today we stand with them shoulder to shoulder,” he said. “The liberation of the American Muslim community is profoundly linked to the liberation of other minorities—blacks, Latinos, gays, Jews, and every other community. We cannot fight injustice against some groups and not against others. Homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia—we cannot dismantle one without the other.”
That has been a common theme in the reaction among America's Muslims. Khaled Latif, the executive director of New York University's Islamic Center and a Huffington Post blogger, wrote on Facebook, “Thinking of my brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community this morning. I can only imagine how the loved ones of those killed in last night's horrific actions in Orlando are feeling. The only way to make sense of such senseless acts is through living with hope, compassion and love. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
Khan, the children's-book author, has also worked with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a Muslim group based in Dearborn, Michigan, which published a report on the common challenges faced by Muslims and the gay community. “I view the L.G.B.T. community as an ally in fighting bigotry,” she told me. “There are so many parallels. Anti-Sharia and anti-gay laws reflect overlapping bigotry. We're learning from each other. The fact that this community was targeted is tragic.”
The mother of two boys, aged eleven and fifteen, Khan posted a reflection on her Web site last October about anti-Muslim campaigns in the United States. “My gut reaction when I heard about the hatred-inspired anti-Muslim protests that are taking place later this week across the country was to grab my children, crawl under the covers of my bed, and distract us all with a Sponge Bob marathon,” she wrote. “My instinct is to retreat to a safe haven and hide, much like I did when I was young child. The difference is that when I was little, I had to wait until Saturday morning for the Looney Toons, and the threats were largely external—fostered by a Cold War and a common enemy that united us all in fear of a nuclear holocaust.
“Today, in this increasingly confusing world I wonder, who exactly is the enemy? Is it . . . me? My children? My Muslim family members who do amazing things that don't make the headlines: strengthening government systems for the Department of Homeland Security, conducting flight safety tests on aircrafts, performing skin grafts on burn victims? Is it ISIS? The Taliban? Russia? Or is it the armed hate groups united under a false banner of ‘humanity' planning to target mosques and Muslim communities to intimidate and bully us in an attempt to take back America from ‘people like you'?”
In the last of several conversations we had over the weekend, Khan said the identification of the shooter as a Muslim had consumed her. “I have this intense fear that it is going to change everything,” she said.
Man with weapons was headed to L.A. gay pride parade
by Joel Rubin, Hailey Branson-Potts, Zahira Torres and Frank Shyong
Authorities on Sunday were trying to determine the intentions of an Indiana man with a cache of weapons, ammunition and explosive-making materials in his car and apparent plans to attend the L.A. Pride festival in West Hollywood.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks initially said on Twitter that the 20-year-old man told one of her officers after he was arrested that he wanted “to harm Gay Pride event.”
But Lt. Saul Rodriguez said later the tweet was a misstatement. He said the suspect told investigators that he was going to the Pride festival but said he did not make additional statements about his intentions.
"It was a misstatement," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately, she was given incorrect information initially, which indicated that that statement was made; however, that statement never was made. He did indicate that he was planning on going to the Pride festival but beyond anything as far as motives or his intentions that statement was never made nor did any officer receive that statement."
Police identified the suspect as James Wesley Howell of Indiana. A Facebook page for someone with the same name in Indiana shows a young man posing next to a white Acura with the same license plate as the car searched in Santa Monica for the weapons and explosives.
At a news conference Sunday afternoon, police stressed they were still trying to figure out what Howell planned to do with the weapons.
Howell's friend and fellow car club member Joseph Greeson, 18, said Howell didn't harbor any ill will toward gays or lesbians.
Greeson said Howell's family in Jeffersonville hadn't seen him for days and that his parents had called Greeson's parents looking for him.
He added that Howell was known to have a gun collection.
According to Indiana court records, Howell was charged in October 2015 with intimidation and felony pointing a firearm at another person. On April 19, Howell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor intimidation, and prosecutors dropped the charge of pointing a firearm. Court records show he was sentenced to a year in state prison and placed on probation. Under the deal, He agreed to forfeit all weapons during his term of probation.
Howell allegedly pointed a gun at his neighbors in the October incident, according to a News and Tribune article. In the article, witnesses also described Howell as having pointed his gun at his boyfriend in an earlier incident.
“James is going to get someone hurt,” one witness said, the article said. “He needs to stop pointing guns at people.”
Greeson said that Howell harbored no ill will toward gays or lesbians and added that Howell was bisexual.
Federal and local law enforcement decided against canceling the annual parade, which went forward Sunday morning under tightened security. Investigators are now trying to piece together what happened but said they don't believe there is any connection between the incident and the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that killed at least 50 people overnight.
Early Sunday, Santa Monica police received a call about a suspected prowler who was knocking on a resident's door and window about 5 a.m. in the 1700 block of 11th Street, Santa Monica police said. Patrol officers responded and encountered Howell, who was sitting in a car registered in Indiana, police said. Officers inspected the car and found three assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition and a 5-gallon bucket containing “chemicals capable of forming an improvised explosive device,” police said.
A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the contents of the bucket included Tannerite, an ingredient that could be used to create a pipe bomb. The maker of the material said that was not the case and that it can only be detonated by high-velocity impact such as a bullet strike. But Tannerite is known as a material used in the construction of other types of explosive devices.
The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation, said authorities also found camouflage clothing in the car.
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said the suspect told police he was going to the Pride parade to look for a friend. Authorities were looking for that individual.
Santa Monica police spokesman Saul Rodriguez said detectives are “not aware of what the suspect's intentions were at this point.”
Santa Monica police continued to search the suspect's white Acura on Sunday morning. All four of the car's doors were open and a green blanket, red gasoline canister and several other smaller items were being piled on the sidewalk next to it. The car's license plate included a symbol of the National Rifle Assn. on the left side and the bottom said, "Teaching Freedom."
A Facebook page for Howell said he attended high school in Louisville, Ky., and lives in Jeffersonville, Ind., where he works for an air filtration company. A car enthusiast, Howell posted numerous photographs of the Acura along with a couple of videos taken from inside cars. Another 10-second video includes gunfire, with shots striking grass.
The site includes political posts, including one in which he compares Hillary Clinton to Adolf Hitler. In another, he repeats conspiracy theories that the government was behind notorious terrorist attacks, including Sept. 11, 2001. That post shares a video claiming that last year's terror attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a hoax and attributable to the “New World Order.”
“They found him with weapons that were very disconcerting," said one source, adding officials are "taking the appropriate safety precautions."
One source in West Hollywood said there was discussion of calling off the parade but that officials decided to go forward, with heavy security including undercover officers in the crowd.
The sources spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
The parade comes hours after the attack at the Orlando club. In addition to those killed, at least 53 were injured in the deadliest shooting in modern American history after a gunman took hostages. The gunman, who was killed in a shootout with police, has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S. law enforcement official said.
West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath said in a statement that Los Angeles County sheriff's officials were stepping up security efforts around Sunday's parade and other festivities. But she said officials do not believe there is any threat around Sunday's activities.
The parade began about 10:45 a.m. Usually a joyful affair, this event was tempered by the Orlando violence and the Santa Monica arrest.
Emma Samuels, 16, stood at Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards with a group of friends, wearing a rainbow tutu.
She had heard about what happened in Florida when her mother called her Sunday morning, as soon as she arrived at the parade. "She told me and said, 'I hope you're safe, sweetie, I love you and let me know that you're OK,'" she said. Her friend Nicki Genco-Kamin, 18, stood with her, a “No H8” temporary tattoo on her left cheek: "I feel like it's all the more reason to come out. That's trying to push us back. This is showing we're still here, we're still going to take a stand," she said.
The group said that a sense of worry was there, but stressed the importance of turning out.
"That's exactly why we're here, to be like, 'I'm proud of who I am. I don't care if you hate me, I'm going to love myself,'" Samuels said.
"Life is short anyways," Genco-Kamin said. "Spend it being authentic to yourself."
“Gun violence on the LGBTQ family during Pride Month makes me sick,” Horvath said. “The deadliest mass shooting in America happened to LGBTQ people on Latin night. While we mourn this heartbreaking loss, we must also rededicate ourselves to the fight for full equality for all people. No one is equal unless everyone is equal.”
A reporter for ProPublica tweeted out a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department bulletin detailing the arrest.
Utah Department of Public Safety discusses how to react to an active shooter
by Fox 13 News and Todd Tanner
SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Public Safety says they hope we never see a mass shooting in Utah like the one that occurred in Florida, but they train all the time, just in case.
Officers say their first priority is always to stop the shooter, but if you find yourself in a shooting SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Public Safety says they hope we never see a mass shooting in Utah like the one that occurred in Florida, but they train all the time, just in case.
“If you're in an active shooter situation.... get out and get away if you can,” said Sgt. Wyatt Weber of the Department of Public Safety's training section. “Obviously, the further you can get away, the safer you're gonna be. The second thing we promote is, if you can't get away, if for some reason you're trapped or contained in a small area, make it difficult for the shooter to get to you. Basically, barricade yourself inside of a building or structure and make him work to get to you.”
Weber has been training officers for 10 years on how to respond to an active shooter, but if you find yourself in a situation where his trainees haven't arrived yet.
“The last thing, be ready,” Weber said. “If he makes it to you and gets to you, or you're somewhere that you can't run or hide, to fight. There's no harm in turning around and just going all out.”
The Department of Public Safety says they have a good track record of resolving mass shooting incidents quickly, like the ones at Trolley Square and Library Square.