The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 12/4/2015
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: December 4, 2015
Guest: Saira Khan, Nizzam Ali, Mohamed Magid, Seamus Hughes, Jack Rise,
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight. We will see you
again Monday. Our live coverage continues now with my colleague Chris
Jansing in San Bernardino. Good evening Chris, it`s great to have you
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Rochelle, thank you. And behind
me in San Bernardino is the inland regional center. That of course the
site of America`s latest mass shooting, 14 people lost their life at an
office Christmas Party on Wednesday morning. Now in the initial hours of
the investigation it seems as if we were looking at another instance of
workplace violence. But today a dramatic change in that investigation as a
new clue surfaced, a message on Facebook, a message from the female
attacker. A messaged pledging allegiance to ISIS.
Tonight we also got our first look at that female attacker, Tashfeen Malik,
the 29-year-old was killed along with her husband, Syed Farook. In a
shootout with police hours after they sprayed as many as 75 rounds is were
gathering of Farook`s co-workers. Today FBI Director James Comey announced
the San Bernardino attack is now a federal terrorism investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The investigation so far has developed
indications of radicalization by the killers, and of potential inspiration
by foreign terrorist organizations. So far we have no indication these
killers are part of an organized larger group or form a part of a cell.
There`s no indication that they are part of a network.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: But how did a couple with a 6-month-old baby who were said to be
living the American dream become mass murders? I sat down for an in-depth
interview with Syed Farook`s sister Saira Khan to get some answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
What have these last few days been like?
SAIRA KHAN, SYED FAROOK`S SISTER: A bad dream, a horrific nightmare. I
want to go back to my normal life.
JANSING: How did you find out your brother was a part of this, that your
sister-in-law was a part of this?
KHAN: I found out on the news around 7:30, 8:00 on Wednesday when they
announced his name. Until then, I thought he was missing or caught up or
maybe held up somewhere.
JANSING: What comes to your mind?
KHAN: Shocked, disbelief. They have the wrong person. How could it be
them? I mean so many things.
JANSING: And now just today, the FBI said this is a terrorism
investigation. Which means your brother and his wife are considered
terrorists. Can you wrap your head around that?
KHAN: No, not at all. I mean, I have absolutely no idea they were
involved in anything like that. Or that they were even capable of doing
something like this.
JANSING: Who were the people you know?
KHAN: I mean my brother that I grew up with, shy, introvert, kept to him
self quiet. You know, kid that (inaudible), they grew up and got married
and his wife was recently here, she was only here for two years. We didn`t
really know her that well. She came from Saudi. We`re barely starting to
get to know her because she was quiet and shy like him.
JANSING: When you say he was quiet, shy, and introvert, did he seem like
someone who was looking for something in his life?
KHAN: No. I mean before he got married, yeah, he was looking for a wife
you know. But after that he seemed happy with his life.
JANSING: And you didn`t really know much about her?
KHAN: No, I mean, I didn`t even know her last name. I just found out
JANSING: You didn`t even know her last name?
KHAN: No. No.
JANSING: didn`t that strike you as odd?
KHAN: No. Because I mean when you get married you usually change your
last name to whatever last name it`s going to be for the husband. So, I
assumed that was her last name. I didn`t know she hadn`t changed that.
JANSING: Did you ever see anything about him or her that would suggest to
you they could be radicalized?
KHAN: No, never.
JANSING: So tell me about their life, did you spend time at their home in
KHAN: No. Actually, we maybe went over like once a month to see their
daughter. So our kids could play together and to see my mom and visit her.
And that`s the extent of it. Say hi, hello, talk ant the kids, that`s it.
I mean, there wasn`t much we had in common her being raised somewhere else
and me being raised here.
JANSING: But did your brother seem happy?
KHAN: Yeah, he was very happy with her.
JANSING: And the baby. This is the part a lot of people can`t quite
understand. How you can have a 6-month-old baby, drop the baby off with
your mother, right? And then go and perpetrate this horrific shooting
JANSING: What was their relationship like with their baby?
KHAN: It was great. They were great parents. I mean my brother used to
play with her for hours. She used to laugh as soon as he started entering
the room. And that`s the part that bugs us the most. Like who`s going to
make her laugh now, you know? She would smile every time she would see,
you know, her mother. And she was nursing her. So, I mean, that`s a big
thing for a mom to leave a nursing child.
JANSING: So what could have happened here? This must have occupied every
waking moment you`ve had since you found out. What happened?
KHAN: I don`t know. I wish I knew like what happened. I wish I could ask
them, you know, but they`re not here. And it`s just – everything is left
up to speculation and investigation. And whatever we`re finding out
through the media.
JANSING: What was their relationship like? I mean, obviously he grew up
here, she grew up there. Did they seem to have any – did she seem to have
a problem adjusting?
KHAN: In the beginning actually she did because she didn`t speak English
so she had a little bit of trouble. But eventually she learned a little
bit and then, you know, we started communicating with her in our language.
So, beside the language barrier not so much, I mean, she seemed to be fine.
She just likes staying home a lot, you know?
JANSING: Traditional wife, you would say?
KHAN: Yeah, pretty much, you know, stay at home, take care of the baby. I
mean for the majority of the marriage, she was pregnant for nine months.
So she was not feeling well, she was on bedrest.
JANSING: And did she have a job or a career? Do you know? Because
apparently there have been reports they was trained as a pharmacist.
KHAN: What I know is that she was – she had a degree in pharmacy.
KHAN: From where, I don`t know about either. But as trained as a
pharmacist, I don`t have knowledge on that.
JANSING: So when you would watch them as a family, nothing ever set off
any kind of alarm bells? No signals that something was amiss?
KHAN: No. Just like his co-workers. I mean, we knew him and there was
nothing that would say alarming bells and, “Hey, look, there`s something
wrong with me.” You know?
JANSING: It seems from what we hear from investigators now, from what
we`ve seen coming from that house they had not only a large number of
weapons and ammunition but a virtual bomb factory. Are you shocked to hear
KHAN: Yes, of course.
JANSING: Did you know that he had guns?
KHAN: I know that he had a gun. It was a handgun. It was kept in a lock
box. And, you know, I asked him why do you have it? And he was like, “Oh
I need it for protection.” And that`s the only one that I was aware of.
JANSING: Do you know if he knew how to use it? Did he get any training?
KHAN: He said the gun he – the gun was licensed. Besides that, I don`t
know if he got training or what other…
JANSING: He went to a shooting range?
KHAN: Yeah, I don`t know about that either.
JANSING: Did he ever talk to you about the time he went to Saudi Arabia?
KHAN: He went to Saudi Arabia for Haj, but thousands of Muslims do that.
My parents went with him too.
JANSING: So it was nothing again out of the ordinary?
KHAN: No, he went to Haj and they stayed with him every minute and he came
back with the time allotted.
JANSING: And then when he went to meet his wife. Was he excited? Was
there a lot of anticipation? You said that was the one thing that seemed
KHAN: Once again, he`s such a quiet and shy person to us from the outside
he looked normal. We even joked about it and said they should be excited
JANSING: And he wasn`t?
KHAN: He didn`t look like it, but then again, he is the type of person
that, you know, you could never read. He was always quiet, kept to
himself. Same expression, smile occasional here and there. So, it`s kind
of kind of hard to guess what a person is think, you know?
JANSING: And he was always like that?
KHAN: He was always like that.
JANSING: Would you consider yourself close though?
KHAN: Since he kept to himself, not really.
JANSING: So what was your relationship like? And how did he fit into your
KHAN: We met once a month, had our kids come over, play and that`s to the
extent of it. I mean, we didn`t have conversations on the phone. We
didn`t really spend a lot of time talking about stuff. And I felt like I
grew distant from him because I got married and I moved away.
JANSING: And what about his relationship with your mom?
KHAN: Like what about the relationship?
JANSING: Normal? Were they close? Was she particularly excited about the
KHAN: Yeah, she is. She`s actually very torn about the baby, because the
baby is the thing that`s the most important to her. She spends so much
with time with her grandchild and she`s distraught and we don`t have her
with us. And, you know, we don`t know when we`re going to get her. So,
that obviously bugs her.
JANSING: Do you know what the status is? What`s going to happen with the
KHAN: At moment, no.
JANSING: There was the other big thing that came out is that your sister-
in-law posted on Facebook about the same time as all of this started an
allegiance to ISIS. And there been some suggestion that maybe she was in
some way influencing your brother.
KHAN: And that`s news to us too because we didn`t know she had any kind of
relations with ISIS or anything like that. Like if you met her, she was
like the girl next door, you know? The sweet, innocent, kind. The kind
that is always smiling, you know, nice to you. You would never ever guess
that that girl would have ties to ISIS.
JANSING: Did she ever express any unhappiness or did you ever have any
conversations about being Muslim in America, or terrorism? Or did you talk
about the Paris attacks?
KHAN: No, actually not at all. I mean, being a housewife you don`t talk
about Paris attacks and this and that in front of your kids, to be honest.
Political views and agenda is not something we discuss in front of our
kids. It`s – mostly things we discuss is kids related, you know, toys,
books, kids, diapers, this and that. And that`s all mainly we talked
JANSING: So how did she take to becoming a mom?
KHAN: She was very happy. She was very content. She, you know, like I
said, she nursed her. She used to dress her up, she used to, you know,
spend hours with her, taking care of her and that was like pretty much you
could say her job.
JANSING: So the idea that she and your brother could take that baby, drop
off the baby knowing that they would never come back?
KHAN: It`s mind boggling. I mean, I can`t imagine. I was telling my
husband that I could never leave my kids anywhere for a couple of hours
much less, you know, think about something like this. I don`t know what
prompted them to do something like this.
JANSING: Do you think she could have influenced him to the extent to
KHAN: I want to believe, yes, because I want to believe my brother is not
capable of doing like this. But then again I don`t know her that well to
know what ties she had, what her past was. We don`t know much about that.
Where she comes from, who she was linked to. You know, all of that is
coming out in the news now. It`s news to us.
JANSING: Did you ever asked her about growing up or what her life was like
KHAN: She hardly said much about her life. She said, you know, I grew up
in big siblings, we grew up in a home together, we`re a happy family and,
you know, that`s pretty much all I know.
JANSING: She said they were a happy family?
JANSING: Do you wonder if she came here, as some people have speculated
now, specifically for this reason? She was looking for a way to come into
the United States?
KHAN: Now that you`ve said that, I haven`t heard that, but yeah, it`s
JANSING: Would you describe them as devout Muslims? Did they – I know
your brother practiced.
How much time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: five minutes.
KHAN: I can hear my daughter.
JANSING: Do you want to take a break.
KHAN: No it`s okay. I`m sorry, what was the question again?
JANSING: Would you describe them as devout Muslims?
KHAN: They were Muslims, you know, they followed and practiced Islam as we
all do. They prayed five times a day, they read the Koran. They fasted in
the month of Ramadan. They already did their Haj which is a big thing as a
Muslim. So yeah, they were like any other Muslim.
JANSING: Was he happy, do you think, in general? I mean, obviously they
made a decision to go to his work place. Did he like his job?
KHAN: He didn`t really talk much about his job. Whenever we asked him, he
would say “Oh, it`s work, it`s all really mean, you know, (ph) about his
JANSING: You never met any of his friends or he never talked about his
KHAN: Co-worker, not at all.
JANSING: So he never described or there was someone who teased him about
JANSING: There was also these reports of a possible confrontation with one
of his Jewish colleagues. Got into a fight about Islam.
KHAN: I read about that on the news. I had no idea.
JANSING: Is he someone who you would think would try to defend Islam or
does he ever show any kind of temper as somebody who would get into even a
KHAN: He never had a temper. And as far as talking about Islam, I did
meet and see him talking to neighbors, of people like that about Islam but
as always in a very polite manner. He never lost his temper or got angry
about anything which is – that`s why it`s so shocking that he would do
something like this.
JANSING: What do you think happened here?
KHAN: I don`t even know how to answer. To be honest, quite frankly, we
haven`t even had the time to process what`s happened. You know, it`s like
its one thing after another. We`re hearing things about us. There`s so
much about us on the news now. My kids faces are all over the place. You
know, there`s so many – and then things that we have to deal with as the
time is going (ph) on. We haven`t even had a chance to sit down and talk
about why he did it, what happened.
What went through their mind? And then we have this thing about their
daughter, you know?
JANSING: A very big thing. 6-month-old child.
JANSING: So what made you want to talk to me today? What did you want to
KHAN: Mainly, whenever something like this happens, there`s a big backlash
that happens on all Muslims, you know. And I just want to say that not all
of us are like this. You know? We`re not all, you know, terrorists.
We`re all normal people. And there`s always someone who does something
like this for whatever reason. It`s not something that should have a
negative impact on everybody else out there.
JANSING: Are you afraid?
KHAN: I think I should be.
JANSING: And as far as your brother, are you grieving? Are you in shock?
Are you angry with him?
KHAN: I`m angry with him and I`m shocked.
JANSING: What would you want people to know about you, about him, about
your sister-in-law. What do you think is missing in all this reporting
that`s been done?
KHAN: I think everything is pretty much covered. I mean, our side is
being heard, we`re being told about things about them that we didn`t know.
And our side is being – I think there`s too much out there for me to say
JANSING: Let me ask you finally, have you cried about this? Have you held
your children close, have you even begun to know what your emotions are?
KHAN: I wish I could cry about it. But, you have to keep it together for
my kids. For my daughter, for my mother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: My conversation with Saira Khan. And when we come back, I`m
going to speak with Nizzam Ali who is here with me. And Nizzam attended
the same mosque as Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHAN: He`s was the type of person you could never read, you know. He was
quiet, kept to himself, same expression, smile occasionally here and there.
So, it`s kind of hard to guess what the person is thinking, you know.
JANSING: And he was always like that?
KHAN: He was always like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: And joining us now is Nizzam Ali who knew Syed Farook, one of the
suspects in Wednesday`s mass shooting. They attended the same mosque in
San Bernardino. Thanks so much for being here. We played the clip and his
sister said his whole life he was so hard to read. And that`s obviously
part of the reason that she`s in such shock. Did you find him to be that
NIZZAM ALI, ATTENDING SAME MOSQUE AS FAROOK: Absolutely. He was, like I
said before, you know, in other interviews, he was very reserved. He was
not a person that would, you know, come in and start a conversation with
you. He was a more shy person. But once you talked to him, he would talk.
But it was very limited, you know, he wouldn`t talk about everything you
know. My interactions with him were limited.
JANSING: We tried to get a window into who these people are, this couple
is. What would you talk about?
ALI: Me, I would talk about what I knew of him, which was that he was a
great guy, he was a nice guy to be around. So today in the community we`re
talking about all the great things I remember him for, you know, his
personality, his characteristics. You know, all of the nice things that he
– I mean, he was a good asset to our community. But…
JANSING: In what way?
ALI: In the sense that he was representing the Muslims, you know, being
cheerful, being someone that was honest, being someone that was, you know,
a typical Muslim.
JANSING: And you went to his wedding reception or at least the
ALI: I was the one that cooked the food for his wedding reception.
JANSING: And what was that like because, one of the things that also
struck me about what Saira Khan said was that he wasn`t really excited
about going to get married, even though that`s something he very much
ALI: Right, I`m not sure – I mean I met him right before he had gotten
married and he had just told me I`m getting married. I said well congrats
to you. You know, let me know if you need any assistance. And when he
came back to me he said hey, do you mind cooking and, you know, doing
something with me for the community. I said no problem, let`s get this
stuff and let`s cook.
JANSING: Did he seem happy to be married?
ALI: Yes (ph).
JANSING: And what about having a child?
ALI: Yeah, as far as I know, because I remember as I mentioned in some of
the other interviews, I remember that at that time he was telling me about
going back to school and pursuing his master`s degree. I don`t remember in
what, but I do remember him mentioning I`m going to go back and do my
master`s degree. So for me this, you know, that he – this to me meant that
he had some perception in life, some good understanding of where he`s
going. He had a plan. You know?
JANSING: Plan for his future.
ALI: For his family, for his family, for his daughter.
JANSING: Did he put it in the context of I want to have a better life for
my family, for my daughter?
ALI: He didn`t say, you know, with this son but just from him saying that
and also, you know, he memorized the Koran six months back, so that was
also, you know, something that we congratulated him on. And he was very
secretive about that as well. He didn`t openly tell us that. So…
JANSING: One of the things that we learned today was about this Facebook
message that his wife posted, pledging allegiance to ISIS. And I guess the
question is, is it possible that she could have convinced him to be part of
ALI: I can`t say. I never met the wife. I didn`t know the wife. I
didn`t know anything about her. So I can`t say honestly.
JANSING: What is it that – can you sort of try to even imagine what could
have brought him to be radicalized, to do something like this?
ALI: Absolutely not. I mean that`s the shocker for the entire community
that knew him. And they did know him. So here we just heard his sister
also saying about the quality, the same thing, that he was very nice, he
was very gentle, he was very kind. He was not someone that showed
aggression and things of that nature. So, to know that and to see what we
see behind us here, this is – I mean there`s no words. It`s devastating.
I don`t have words to explain, to express what type of feeling I have that,
you know, what type of impact it`s going to have upon the Muslim community.
You know, as I mentioned before this is my community. I was born and
raised here in San Bernardino. So it affects me greatly, you know, that –
and she mentioned also, his sister mentioned also about backlashes from the
community and that`s what we fear that, you know, we want the community to
know here, and the nation to know, that we are American citizens, we mourn,
we share our condolences. We give our condolences to those who have lost -
- the families that have, you know, family members and stuff that lost
their lives, and the victims and also to those that are injured.
And, I mean we can`t say that enough that we`re mourning with the nation.
This is a time of mourning. This is not a time of, you know, anything else
JANSING: Nizzam Ali, thank you very much, we do appreciate that. Also
joining us now is Imam Mohamed Magid, the Executive Director of the All
Dulles Area Muslim Society, second largest mosque in America. He also
works to help counter violent extremism. It`s good to talk to you again,
Imam. Thank you very much. And, if you heard the interview you heard
Saira, the sister talking about, she was concerned about a backlash and she
wanted to send the message that not all Muslims are terrorists.
What did you think when you heard what happened here?
IMAM MOHAMED MAGID, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ADAMS: It is very disturbing.
Make all of us very angry, very sad to see a person will would commit such
a crime. Especially if he thought that this act is being done in the name
of religion, in the name of Islam. Also my heart goes to the family and
this sister that she`s shocked like anyone else about the behavior. And
that shows that the virtual community, the internet recruitment is
impacting someone like him to get radicalized and willing to do such
heinous crime by taking the life of innocent people.
JANSING: This is one of the things that I know you have worked on at your
mosque and have worked with other mosque about trying to counter this
radicalization. Help us to understand how this happened, how this
recruitment happens and what you`re doing to fight it?
MAGID: Recruitment happen online by having ISIS to disconnect the person
from their family first. To have them not trust anyone close to them. And
to cut them off also from religious authority to make sure they don`t
listen to anyone except to their religious figures and leaders, and also to
have them have this feeling of us versus them. Unfortunately there`s a
psychological aspect of this recruitment that sometimes we`re not
addressing, and the aspect of feeling a sense of purpose.
A person gets to believe that ISIS offer a narrative of restoring dignity
and giving honor and fighting for justice. Which is all of these slogans
of ISIS as all of them are false. Slogans that give people a sense of
purpose that they destructive, therefore what we did, we brought law
enforcement to our mosque and invited others in the issue of the internet
JANSING: Imam Mohamed Magid, thank you so much for being with us and for
the work I know you`re sharing with others.
And coming up, terrorism in America. What federal officials can do to try
to keep us safe from another attack?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANDY PIFER: … was my best friend. And he was – so many young people,
such fried. And was an incredible person, his family is in Georgia, his
family here, we were just all so sick of seeing families get hurt by a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: FBI Director James Comey says hundreds of agents around the world
are spending a tremendous amount of time working to understand Syed Farook
and Tashfeeen Malik`s motive as well as every detail of their life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: We are going through a very large volume of electronic evidence,
these electronic evidence that these killers tried to destroy and tried to
conceal from us that we now have and are exploiting to try and understand
them. There is much about this that doesn`t make sense to even – for even
those of us who this for a living, that is the reason we have hundreds of
people running down leads all over the world on this and spending
tremendous amounts of time as we sit here trying to understand the
electronic record around these two killers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: Joining us now is Seamus Hughes, the Deputy Director on the
Program on Extremism at George Washington University Center for Cyber &
Homeland Security, and Jack Rise, the terrorism expert and former CIA
special agent. Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.
Jack, investigators seem to be befuddled in many ways and we heard the
Director Comey say twice, there`s so much that they don`t really
understand. Have you seen a case like this before?
JACK RISE, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, we have and I think what makes this
difficult though is we`re still trying to get all of the information
together. And what we`re seeing is this radicalization that`s tied to the
internet. So you have social media that crosses so many different places,
we have to deal with Pakistan, you have to deal with Saudi Arabia and some
of the other connections that may include al-Shabaab.
You start looking at so many different places to try to find a motivation.
But to try to find a line that would have been the recruitment line is just
so difficult to do right now. And that`s what they`re struggling with.
JANSING: And you have co-authored a study Seamus called, “ISIS in America:
From Retweets to raqqa.” And, according to your study there have been 900
active investigations against homegrown violent extremist, in all 50 states
so far this year 56 people have been arrested in 21 states. Is there any
commonality here, is there anything that might have been a clue in this
case here in San Bernardino?
SEAMUS HUGHES, CENTER FOR CYBER & HOMELAND SECURITY: That`s the biggest
takeaway from the report, there is – not necessarily a profile. We`ve
seen – we looked at through 7,000 pages of legal documents to take a look
at, you know, what makes these people tick, you know, what demographics
there are. We`ve seen male, we`ve seen female, we`ve seen old, young, rich
and poor. They tend to be younger though. So the average age of the
people we looked at was 26. In one-third of the cases they`re 21 years or
JANSING: Your study also revealed in those 7,000 pages of documents,
again, as you said, sort of how different so many of them are. And that`s
part of what I think frightens a lot of people. That they were sort of
hiding in plain sight. I mean, how many of these cases were there what
seemed like clear warnings.
HUGHES: When you look at all of the cases you see – in general, the vast
majority, there`s a bystander that sees something, whether it`s a friend or
a family member. They see something is a little bit off but they don`t
recognize what they`re seeing, and they don`t have the tools to be able to
talk to law enforcement and alert them. Right now, the only option a
family member has, if they have a loved one they`re concerned about is to
do nothing and hope it`s just a phase, or to call the FBI and potentially
talk to their loved ones through a prison bar for 20 years. We need to
find a middle way that safety that in-between to intervene with people and
bring them back into the fold.
JANSING: And in fact earlier today, the FBI`s Los Angeles Assistant
Director in Charge David Bowdich explained how the suspects tried to cover
their tracks. Here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI LA ASST. DIRECTOR IN CHARGE: They attempted to destroy
their digital finger prints. For example, we found two cell phones in a
nearby trash can. Those cell phones were actually crushed. We have
retained those cell phones and we do continue to exploit the data from
those cell phones. We do hope that the digital fingerprints left by these
two individuals will take us towards their motivation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: So Jack obviously that`s a key here, what made them do this.
And, is there any sense of how badly damaged some of that equipment is?
How good is the technology for covering it, and in the grand scheme of
figuring this out, how important could that digital fingerprint be?
RISE: Oh I think it can be huge in this case, because what we have the
ability to do now is to reach out and look for connections to see where
they found what they found. And where they found how to build the bombs
that they did, to deal with the mechanisms that they did and where did they
find that. If there was a connection to somebody who was involved in a
recruitment issue then we potentially may find that.
I might want to add something to this – to the last guest referenced, what
I`ve seen in the twin cities in Minnesota is al-Shabaab has been incredibly
successful in convincing young men primarily from about the ages of about
19 to 28 to actually go back and fight in the horn of Africa. And we`ve
even seen some of those reaching back towards ISIS as well.
And so there is a demographic that one can look at. But I think what`s
most important in what we have seen at least in this area of the country is
the ability to find those who feel lost, disaffected, and what we have
found is organizations like al-Shabaab and ISIS are targeting them and
using their justification to motivate these young men to do the things that
JANSING: Jack, Seamus, stay with me, we have much more to talk about.
We`ll be right back.
Seamus Hughes and Jack Rice are back with us as we continue the
conversation about terror, radicalization, how we stop homegrown
terrorists. And, I want to look at that specifically Jack, because it is
so hard to track these homegrown ISIS-inspired plots, terror plots much
more investigators say than a traditional terrorists plot. Why and how is
this type of investigation different?
RISE: Well, in this particular case, what makes it difficult is that if
there is a direct recruitment line, if you can find somebody in ISIS or in
the past al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab, Boko Haram that was actually trying to
recruit somebody directly and you could follow that line, you can figure
out who they`re trying to recruit and the person who actually did the
recruiting. The problem in this case potentially is we may have simply –
he`s simply inspired by the rhetoric being inspired by ISIS.
If that happens there`s no way to make a determination before they act that
they`re going to act. And this is all about trying to get in front of an
attack, in front of a terrorist operation. You can`t do that in this case.
This concept of a lone wolf, or in this case lone wolves, is something
that`s very difficult to stop. And that`s what we`re really talking about
JANSING: Yeah, and Seamus, one of the things that we hear so often, we
even heard it from the (inaudible) is how sophisticated ISIS and other
groups have gotten on social media and online. How they`re able to keep up
sort of this relationship that they find with a potential recruit, 24/7.
If they get up in the middle of the night and they want to go online, there
is someone there who is willing essentially to talk to them. And as
quickly as they can put out a business of social media site, another one
goes up. How key is all of these as we like at this kind of event?
HUGHES: Right. So the problem on extremism, over six-month period we
looked at 300 people we believe to be Americans on social media that were
ISIS supporters. The primary platform of choice is Twitter. And so what
we saw is essentially an echo chamber. A place where there`s, you know,
inside jokes and means (ph) and everyone kind of known each other, an
online community and they`re able to communicate and that type of way.
Essentially reinforce their own believes.
JANSING: And there are so many questions there yet unanswered here. For
example, the most obvious is the motive. But beyond that, did one person
inspire the other? And I wondering Jack, as you look at the facts on the
ground as they are, what do you make of some of these suspicions that
potentially she was the one who either was first recruited or maybe while
she was still in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan was radicalized and came here
specifically for this reason. How do we get at that?
RICE: What makes this so difficult, and they`re great questions, is you
take a look at him first. I mean, he was born in the U.S., college
graduate, good job, successful. Objectively, one would say well wait a
second why would that be? That doesn`t necessarily mean he wasn`t the one
radicalized, lets be clear. But at the same time we look at her, born in
Pakistan, moves to Saudi Arabia living in a part of Saudi Arabia that`s
actually pretty radicalized itself, and then going back to Pakistan,
another place that`s also quite radicalized.
Where Wahhabism was big in Saudi, what we`ve seen in the parts of Pakistan,
you add all of those together, my inclination is to lean towards her simply
because of her connections, but again, it`s very difficult to make the
determination at this point. A lot of the social media is going to make
the difference. I think following those issues is critical in this case,
to see who was driving home.
JANSING: And Seamus as you look at this beyond the obvious question of
motive, what`s the key question you want answered here?
HUGHES: The key question is the link to ISIS. Was it inspired or was it
directed? And I think the facts will still run out on that. In terms of
social media, I think it`s important to circle back on it. We see it in a
threefold way. The first way is they essentially groom recruits online.
They`re egging people on that are trying to understand their faith. And
ISIS is trying to fill that void.
The second way they do that is essentially logistical support. So they`re
doing is providing numbers and recruiters that you can reach out to on
Twitter to be able to cross the border in Turkey into Syria.
The third way and I think this is the most important one when we saw is in
the Garland attack, is there`s a devil in the shoulder, with the FBI
Director – term used that. So you`re essentially you`re egging people
onto attack. Time will tell whether this was directed or inspired, but
we`ll see what the role of social media on this and whether it played a
direct role in terms of inspiring her to act.
JANSING: Seamus Hughes, Jack Rice, thanks to both of you for your
Coming up, it`s not just politicians talking about religion and gun. Up
next, one of the attorneys for the Farook had to say today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: We know this is very unsettling for the people of the United
States. What we hope you will do is not let fear become disabling, but to
instead try to channel it into an awareness of your surroundings, to get to
a place where you are living your life, but if you see something that
doesn`t make sense, you say something to somebody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: That was FBI Director James Comey today commenting on the terror
investigation of the San Bernardino shooting and how the public should
This afternoon, one of the attorneys for Farook family David Chesley also
spoke about how the public should respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CHESLEY, FAROOK FAMILY ATTORNEY: I think we need to avoid bigotry,
stereotyping, anything that we would be uncomfortable happening to us as
Christians, we should try to avoid doing that to Muslims as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: That same family attorney blamed the 2016 presidential candidates
for creating an atmosphere of prejudice and fear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHESLEY: Political candidates that could very likely be our next
president, who are saying things like we should register all Muslims and
that mosques should be investigated and looked into or that the families of
terrorists should be killed without due process, we just have to be
protective of religious freedom in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: Let`s break down the political response to the shooting. Joining
me now is Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, former Chairman of the
Democratic National Committee and an MSNBC political analyst. It`s always
good to see you, and unfortunately we always seem to have this conversation
after there`s been a mass shooting.
I want to play what President Obama said yesterday and Donald Trump said
today on gun control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: We`re going to have to search ourselves as a
society to make sure that we can take basic steps that would make it
harder, not impossible but harder for individuals to get access to weapons.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If the people in Paris or the
people in California, if you had a couple of folks in there with guns and
that knew how to use them and they were in that room, you wouldn`t have
dead people, the dead people would be the other guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANSING: I wondered Howard, you`ve been around for a while, what do you
make of the political divide on this issue. Has it ever been bigger?
HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN: I think the political divide is just part
of the partisanship. And the country is divided. There`s not a lot of
common sense from what Donald Trump just said. I don`t think anybody is
trying to take away everybody`s guns. But I do think – I was endorsed by
the NRA eight times when I ran for various statewide offices.
And, none of the NRA members up here thinking, that means you have to have
a bazooka in your front yard to shoot a dear. So it seems to me that you
can at least minimize the number of people that are killed in these
instances if you went back to the semiautomatic ban. There`s no need for
I mean, you could say, OK, Donald Trump, let`s have people with happened
guns so they could shoot the terrorists, all right? But if the terrorists
have Kalashnikovs, they`re going to kill a lot of people. So this is –
there`s some middle ground here that make sense and we`re not hearing any
of that from the Republican presidential candidates because they`re
terrified of the National Rifle Association.
JANSING: Well, is that all that`s going on here though? I mean isn`t
there an element frankly for the 2016 candidates at their base. And, for
some of them it is what has been going on for a long time, which is the
second amendment issue. For others, is it a fear, and an understandable
fear that some people feel?
DEAN: Well look, the Republicans are catering to their base. And there is
a reasonable middle ground they`re not interested in talking about. I
think they`re going to get in trouble. Leadership is not catering to your
base leadership is doing what`s right for the country. And it`s not
getting – as Mr. Chesley said, people angry and terrified. That is not
what good leadership and I think that`s going to be reflected in the final
vote in November.
JANSING: And what about the on the Democratic side? Obviously, and you
talked a lot about this, after the shootings in Paris, the questions about
whether President Obama spoke forcefully enough. And this case we haven`t
seen much, he made a brief statement. Where should the President be, what
does he need to be doing that he`s not, or do you think that in many ways
he`s fighting a battle that at least in the next year in this political
climate simply can`t be won?
DEAN: Well, I actually think it does make sense to speak out on the issue.
And I think the President should be the one to do it because he`s the
leader of the country, theirs is a middle ground, there is a place where
most Americans are – or the NRA and there`s Republicans are not. Most
people do not believe that the Average American needs a semiautomatic to
keep their family safe or to shooting deer.
Most Americans do not want to ban guns. They think they ought to have a
right to own a gun, there`s a middle ground there that make sense. I saw
Director Comey talk about how we`re going to follow these people on ISIS.
We need to have – there`s some other things that we need besides gun
control. We need to have an FBI that proactively goes into the dark
network where these guys are and goes and gets them, and hunts them down.
And we got to criminalize what these folks are doing. If they`re getting
people to shoot up large numbers of people, that ought to be a criminal
offense and we got to be able to get those people proactively.
JANSING: Howard Dean, it`s always good to see you. Thanks for coming out
on a Friday night. Appreciate it.
After this break, my final thoughts on violence in America and what
happened in San Bernardino.
JANSING: Late today, I walked into the house of a woman whose brother is a
mass murderer. It was chilling and normal, a normal kitchen, a child
upstairs crying. In the blink of an eye, normal life, everyday of going to
work and laughing with friends and taking care of a sick kid obliterated
with the sounds of gun fire. I saw it first in 1999 at Columbine High
School, and the anguished face of a father whose son was shot at close
range. 13 years ago I saw him (ph) again, we were outside a movie theater
in a rural Colorado where more innocent lives were stolen.
In between I can vividly see that parking lot where Gabby Gifford was
talking to constituents in 2011. Blood staining the pavement. And I
remember all too well the tears of a priest in Newtown whose one parish
alone would bury eight children, 6 and 7-years old. Truth to be told, I
cried with them.
And the night a gunman open fired on a bible study group in Charleston, I
talked to a young man in shock, his aunt and his cousin were in that room.
But you don`t have to be in those places to feel the loss, to ache with the
fear that some piece of our humanity, our sense of security has been
stolen. I came here from Paris. They share our pain as we do theirs.
What`s remarkable though is that time and again the victim`s family,
friends and community have not just reclaimed what the murders and the
terrorist have taken from us but have answered it. That`s also what I`ve
seen, people flocking to makeshift memorial, the candles lit, the prayers
said, the stuffed animals left around the Christmas tree in downtown
Newtown. Scholarships started, foundations too. Parents who now dedicate
their lives to honor their children, undaunted in their fight for stronger
gun laws. You don`t have to be in these places to know good can come of
evil, and healing follows those good acts, big and small. From San
Bernardino, good night.
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