Tag Archives: FBI

Homegrown Terrorism: The Truth We Don’t Know

Since September 11, 2001, when many Americans hear the word ‘terrorism’, or when they think of a ‘terrorist attack’, they think of an act perpetrated by a foreign entity. The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were perpetrated by 19 foreign-born Arab hijackers recruited by Al-Qaeda, leading some Americans to equate all attacks to Islam, leading to Islamophobia, or a fear of Islam, and a fear of foreigners in general.

“It is important to go back to the definition of terrorism,” said Edina Lekovic, the Director of Policy and Programming at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, “so that Americans know the United States is talking about all forms of politically-motivated violence that take civilian lives, instead of misunderstanding what terrorism is about.”

In fact, every lethal terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11, whether in Fort Hood or Boston or San Bernardino, has been conducted by American citizens or legal permanent residents.

“Terrorism has to have three vital components,” said Erroll Southers, USC’s Director of Homegrown Violent Extremism and Director of International Programs. “It has to have a threat or an act of violence, some legitimizing ideology it’s attached to, and have a civilian, most likely a victim, that’s going to be some political driver to it.”

Media play a huge role in the misconception some Americans have that all terrorism is linked to Muslim perpetrators.

“Today, when there’s an act of violence, if [the media] don’t mention that the person who perpetrated it is Muslim, I know he’s not and that is a code,” Southers said. “It becomes a driver for what the public hears and perceives, and they pick up on that.”

“The media give us ways of thinking about things,” Lekovik said. “When we only get one piece of the overall picture, and that picture is exclusively through the lens of bad news, then we have a fundamental misunderstanding of who a group of people are.”

Last year, 52 people were killed in acts of domestic terrorism, Southers said. An equal number of those 52 were killed by white supremacists as were by Muslims, yet the majority of law enforcement officers’ efforts seem to be against Muslims.

The Department of Homeland Security started the campaign, “See Something, Say Something,” to raise public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement, but Southers argued the campaign is skewed too strongly against foreign threats.

“The government needs to “see something, say something” on all things,” he said, “and that’s not being done equitably. The best approach to handle this is through real community engagement. Communities have to own, and direct, and drive and sustain efforts, so violence doesn’t happen.”

“It’s powerful to model for the public, a way to engage with Muslims, that says ‘we stand together’ in solidarity,” Lekovic said.

She pointed to Los Angeles’ Mayor Garcetti’s 2016 visit to the Islamic Center of Southern California, where he participated in the weekly prayer, and shared a message of unity and support for Muslim-Americans living in Los Angeles.

“Those messages are very powerful, and need to get out to Angelinos and Americans at times like this, when we feel uncertain,” Lekovic said. “When we feel uncertain, we feel fear. When we feel fear, our brains turn off and our hearts turn on and we don’t always make the best decisions in those circumstances.”

Moderator: Alexi Chidbachian

Anchor: Scott Sanders

Producer: Gabrielle Ortega

Social Media Editor: Danielle Pendleton

Reporters: Sophie Ashley, Alexi Chidbachian, Gabrielle Ortega, Danielle Pendleton, Scott Sanders, Joshua Spidel

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Online Privacy: Terms and Conditions May Apply

Passwords, code combinations, and security questions – there are multiple ways in which we try to protect our information online and on our devices today. Yet the reality is that there aren’t any constitutional laws that protect our online privacy.

In this digital age we perform numerous actions on the Internet everyday that require us to share our personal information. It has become such a habit for us to do so that many of us no longer think twice of who this data can be accessed by, and for how long it will be accessible.

“In reality what we’re doing is that we’re all surrendering information, we’re not sharing it,” said CSUN Marketing Professor Kristen Walker. “All we have is faith in our interactions and exchange of information, in particular on our mobile devices.”

The question of who has the right to the information we surrender gained attention this spring as tech company Apple and the FBI got involved in an encryption case. In the aftermath of the fatal terrorist attack in San Bernardino in December 2015, the FBI wanted the iPhone belonging to one of the suspects unlocked. Apple refused to help the FBI in their encryption request, saying it would endanger both personal privacy and national security.

“This is really just two villains facing off each other,” said CSUN Communication Studies Professor Gina Giotta. “Nobody wins, because our rights are being trampled in both cases: on the one hand in the corporate sector, on the other hand in the government sector.”

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures by our government, and is seen by many legal scholars as also central to all forms of surveillance and privacy. In today’s era of technology, the Fourth Amendment has also been interpreted by some as a broad protection of our privacy on digital platforms as well.

“Our technology is advancing in an unprecedented pace, and our legal system is not keeping up,” said Guardian reporter Nellie Bowles. “You have these two really separate cultures, moving in two different paces, and we’re starting to see a lot of situations where that is becoming a major problem.”

This tech privacy zeitgeist may be more noticeable for some than for others. Older generations were used to having only their name and contact information in the white pages accessible to others. The amount of personal information that we’re forced to surrender today can be difficult for these generations to accept.

“Technology might be going too fast, according to our mentality,” said Pierce College Computer Science Professor Luis Celada. “If you ask a person born in the last 15 years, there’s no such thing as being careful with their privacy, because they have always been exposed to it. Prior generations see that difference.”

Giotta said the so-called Millennials should be careful with how and what they share about themselves online. This care should also go for popular social networks, where information usually is shared only with users known and trusted.

“To suggest that the mutual or peers surveillance that we do on social networks isn’t a big deal is kind of dangerous,” Giotta said. “When we feel the constant gaze of our friends, co-workers, and parents upon us, we’re much less likely to be concerned when one of those gazes becomes that of the government.”


Moderator: Sofia Levin

Anchor: Mariah Robinson

Producer: Harry Bennett III

Social Media Editors: Harry Bennett III and Mariah Robinson

Reporters: Ajo Adelaja, Harry Bennett III, Jarvis Haren, Valerie Hernandez, Haley Kramer, Sofia Levin and Mariah Robinson


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