MANCHESTER, England (AP) – As officials hunted for accomplices of a suicide bomber and Britain’s prime minister warned another attack could be “imminent,” thousands of people poured into the streets of Manchester in a defiant vigil Tuesday for victims of a blast at a pop concert – the latest apparent target of Islamic extremists seeking to rattle life in the West.
The attack left at least 22 dead, including an 8-year-old girl, shattering the revelry at a show by American singer Ariana Grande, where strains of electric pop and the sways of innocent young fans quickly gave way to an explosion, a flood of screams and a stampede of panicked concert-goers, many clutching pink balloons and wearing the kitten-ear headbands popularized by Grande.
Touching on that disconnect, British Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage.”
May said Britain’s terror threat level had been raised to critical – meaning another attack may be imminent. The status means armed soldiers could be deployed instead of police at public events including sports matches. The threat level had been at the second-highest rung of “severe” for several years.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the blood bath Monday, though a top American intelligence official said the assertion could not be verified. Manchester Police Chief Ian Hopkins identified the bomber as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, who authorities said died in the attack. Police raided two sites in the northern English city, setting off a controlled explosion in one, and arresting a 23-year-old man in a third location.
May said Abedi was born and raised in Britain and a European security official said he was of Libyan descent. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on ongoing investigations.
At least 20 heavily armed, helmeted police surrounded a modest red brick house listed as Abedi’s address in a mixed Manchester suburb at midday on Tuesday and blasted down the door.
“It was so quick. These cars just pulled up and all these police with guns, dogs, jumped out of the car and said to us: ‘Get in the house now,'” said Simon Turner, 46, who lives nearby. Later, forensic officers in white coveralls were seen going in and out of the property.
Details on Abedi were slow to trickle out. He was described by neighbors as a tall, thin young man who often wore traditional Islamic dress, but few said they knew him well.
Alan Kinsey, 52, who lives across the street, said his neighbor would often get picked up by another young man in a Toyota and often returned late at night. “I thought he worked in a takeaway or something” because of his late hours, Kinsey said.
Police also searched an apartment in a nearby area that British media reported belonged to Abedi’s brother, Ismail.
Late Tuesday, thousands of people, some holding up signs proclaiming “I Love MCR” – an abbreviation for Manchester – held a moment of silence at a vigil for the victims. Lord Mayor Eddy Newman and the city’s police chief were among the speakers in front of City Hall in Albert Square, where a banner with a website for a Muslim group said “Love for all, Hatred for None.”
May called raising the country’s terror threat level and deploying soldiers to patrol key sites a “proportionate and sensible response” to the suicide bombing. There are two major sports events in London on Saturday, with Wembley Stadium hosting soccer’s FA Cup final, which Prince William is due to attend, and Twickenham hosting rugby’s Premiership final.
Monday’s bombing made Manchester Arena, one of the largest indoor concert venues in Europe, the latest apparent target of Islamic extremists striking at the heart of Western culture, an ideology baffling to the panicked young faces emerging from the concert.
Among those confirmed killed was Georgina Callander, whose death was reported by her former school, which posted a photo of her in her school uniform on its website and described her as a “lovely” and “very popular” young woman. Also killed was 8-year-old Saffie Roussos, who a teacher called “simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word” who was warm, kind, “and unassuming, with a creative flair.”
The little girl’s mother and sister were among the 59 wounded, which included at least 12 children under the age of 16.
Grande, who was not injured in the blast, tweeted: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
The bombing took place after Grande closed the show with “Dangerous Woman” and left the stage and the audience streamed toward the city’s main train station. It scattered bolts and other metal scraps, apparently intended to maximize the bloodshed. People tumbled over guardrails and one another clawing toward an escape.
“There was this massive bang. And then everyone just went really quiet. And that’s when the screaming started,” said 25-year-old Ryan Molloy. “As we came outside to Victoria Station, there were just people all over the floor covered in blood.”
The attack sparked a nightlong search for loved-ones – parents for the children they had accompanied or had been waiting to pick up, and friends for each other after groups were scattered by the blast. Twitter and Facebook lit up with heartbreaking appeals for the missing.
“I’ve called the hospitals. I’ve called all the places, the hotels where people said that children have been taken and I’ve called the police,” Charlotte Campbell tearfully told ITV television’s Good Morning Britain breakfast show. Campbell’s 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, had attended the show with a friend who was wounded and being treated in a hospital.
“She’s not turned up,” Campbell said of her daughter. “We can’t get through to her.”
Hayley Lunt, who brought her 10-year-old daughter Abigail to the show, her very first concert, said they ran as fast as they could once the explosions rang out. “What should have been a superb evening,” Lunt said, “is now just horrible.”
Some concert-goers said security had been haphazard before the show, with some people being searched and others not. However, authorities would not say whether the bomber blew himself up inside or outside the arena, so it wasn’t clear if rigorous bag screening or additional security would have helped prevent the deaths and injuries. The venue tweeted on Monday night that it happened “outside the venue in a public space.”
Around the United Kingdom and across Europe, the attack brought fear and mourning.
At Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II marked a moment of silence alongside her husband Prince Philip as well as Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. In Rome, the lights of the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain were darkened.
U.S. President Donald Trump, on a visit to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, called the perpetrators “evil losers” and said “this wicked ideology must be obliterated.”
Manchester, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northwest of London, is one of Britain’s largest cities. The attack was the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on subway trains and a bus in 2005.
Islamic State’s claim of responsibility echoed others the group has made for attacks in the West but with vague details that left open the possibility it was an opportunistic attempt at propaganda. Manchester itself has seen terror before, but not this deadly. The city was hit by a huge Irish Republican Army bomb in 1996 that leveled a swath of the city center. More than 200 people were injured, although no one was killed.
The bombing also elicited painful memories of the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, where most of the 130 killed were at the Bataclan concert hall.
Hui reported from London. Contributing to this report were Gregory Katz, Brian Rohan, Paisley Dodds, Lisa Leff and Sophie Berman in London; John Leicester and Lori Hinnant in Paris; Eric Tucker in Washington; and Matt Sedensky in New York.
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NEW YORK (AP) – An Afghan immigrant wanted for questioning in the bombings that rocked a New York City neighborhood and a New Jersey shore town was captured Monday after being wounded in a shootout with police, authorities said.
WABC-TV footage showed a man believed to be 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher in Linden, New Jersey. He appeared to be conscious and looking around.
Two officers were wounded in the gun battle but were not believed to have been seriously hurt, authorities said.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said that the owner of a bar reported someone asleep in the doorway of his establishment. A police officer went to investigate and recognized the man as Rahami, police and the mayor said.
Rahami pulled a gun and shot the officer – who was wearing a bulletproof vest – in the torso, and more officers joined the gun battle and brought Rahami down, police Capt. James Sarnicki said.
The arrest came just hours after police issued a bulletin and photo of Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan with an address in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Authorities said the blasts were looking increasingly like an act of terrorism with a foreign connection.
Police did not disclose how they zeroed in on Rahami as a person of interest in the bombing investigation but were known to be poring over surveillance video. At the same time, five people who were pulled over in a vehicle Sunday night were being questioned by the FBI, officials said.
The shootout came after a weekend of fear and dread in New York and New Jersey.
In addition to the blast that injured 29 people in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday, an unexploded pressure cooker bomb was found blocks away, and a pipe bomb exploded in a New Jersey shore town before a charity race. No one was injured there. On Sunday, five explosive devices were discovered in a trash can at an Elizabeth train station.
Also on Saturday, a man who authorities say referred to Allah wounded nine people in a stabbing rampage at a Minnesota mall before being shot to death by an off-duty police officer. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility.
Authorities have not drawn any connection between the violence in Minnesota and the bombings in the New York area.
Citing the FBI, New Jersey State Police said Monday that the bombings in Chelsea and the New Jersey shore town Seaside Park were connected.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as investigators gathered information, they learned there were “certain commonalities among the bombs,” leading authorities to believe “that there was a common group behind the bombs.”
Before Rahami’s capture, Cuomo said investigators have no reason to believe there are further threats, but the public should “be on constant guard.”
Around the time Rahami was taken into custody, President Barack Obama was in New York on a previously scheduled visit for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, and said it was “extremely fortunate” nobody was killed in the bombings.
He called on Americans to show the world “we will never give in to fear.”
“We all have a role to play as citizens to make sure we don’t succumb to that fear. And there’s no better example of that than the people of New York and New Jersey,” the president said. “Folks around here, they don’t get scared.”
Early Monday, FBI agents swarmed an apartment above a fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth that is tied to Rahami. The Rahami family lives in the apartment.
The restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, is owned by Rahami’s father and has also employed some of his brothers, Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said.
He said Rahami’s father and two brothers sued the city after it passed an ordinance requiring the restaurant to close early because of complaints from neighbors about it being a late-night nuisance.
Ryan McCann, of Elizabeth, said that he often ate at the restaurant and recently began seeing Rahami working there more.
“He’s always in there. He’s a very friendly guy, that’s what’s so scary. It’s hard when it’s home,” McCann said.
In the immediate aftermath of the New York bombing, de New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo were careful to say there was no evidence of a link to international terrorism. Both said Monday that appeared to be changing.
“The more we learn with each passing hour is it looks more like terrorism,” de Blasio said in an interview on NY1 News. Cuomo said on MSNBC: “Today’s information suggests it may be foreign-related, but we’ll see where it goes.”
On Sunday night, FBI agents in Brooklyn stopped “a vehicle of interest” in the investigation of the Manhattan explosion, according to FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser.
She wouldn’t provide further details, but a government official and a law enforcement official who were briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press that five people in the car were being questioned at an FBI building in Manhattan.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the investigation.
On Sunday, a federal law enforcement official said the Chelsea bomb contained a residue of Tannerite, an explosive often used for target practice that can be picked up in many sporting goods stores.
Cellphones were discovered at the site of both the New York and New Jersey bombings, but no Tannerite residue was identified in the New Jersey bomb remnants, in which a black powder was detected, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to comment on the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The pipe bomb that exploded Saturday in Seaside Park went off before a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. The race was canceled.
One of the five devices found at the Elizabeth train station exploded while a bomb squad robot tried to disarm it. No one was hurt.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Experts are offering advice for talking to your kids about violence abroad and closer to home.
The advice comes during the same week as terror attacks in Brussels and Howard County Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Koontz being killed.
“You give them the facts and you try to stay away from the details so much, and you remind them of the things that are in place to keep them safe,” said Dr. Kristy McNamee, a behavioral health counselor at Franciscan St. Francis Health.
McNamee says you should answer kids’ questions to the best your ability. But she says you first need to control your own emotions.
“If you’re freaked out about something or fearful about something you kind of need to get that under control first,” McNamee advised.
She says the images can cause post traumatic stress, anxiety and even flashbacks.
“Older teenagers you might have more of a conversation with, but the younger kids they just really want to know that they’re safe,” she said.
McNamee says, for younger kids, limit the amount of news coverage they see. And to stick to normal routines. She says older kids may be called to action.
“You can always help out the Red Cross or something. With Deputy Koontz you might want to send a card to the family of something like that and they might feel that they’re able to provide some comfort to somebody else,” she said.
She says the closer to home the tragedy is, the harder it will be for them.
“It’s important too to remind them that while this is on the news a lot, they’re rare occurrences in the grand scheme of things,” she said.
Dr. McNamee also says that any of these conversations should be handled by parents, or other trusted, well-informed adults.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) – Several Purdue University students said they feel lucky to be alive after learning of the terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium. The group of tourism and hospitality management majors had just wrapped up a study abroad trip in Europe for spring break, which included stops in Luxembourg and Brussels.
They returned from Belgium Sunday, two days before the explosions that killed dozens of people. They were also in Brussels as police arrested the terror suspect in the Paris attacks.
Even as that happened, they say they always felt safe.
It was a trip of a lifetime.
“We did a lot of food and beer and wine tasting,” said senior Maggie Lengacher as she described how they studied European cuisine. They also got to meet and befriend several people, the same people they now hope are safe.
“The guy who took my luggage and put it on the cart or even just the people we met at the cheese place in the first day. Were they leaving the country, going on the plane that day,” Lengacher wondered.
Two explosions happened in the Brussels airport, the exact location their group passed through just two days earlier.
“To know we were just standing in that spot that you see on TV with all this damage and wreckage it was just it was just shocking,” said senior Kendall Crow. “I didn’t have a lot of words.”
“It was in the exact area we were just waiting to get checked at customs,” added Lengacher. “It was just awful.”
That shock was only magnified by the fact that the students said it was hard to go anywhere in the airport without seeing armed guards or security.
“There’s all of these military personnel walking around like it’s extremely safe, there’s nothing to worry about and it’s like, well how did that even happen,” questioned senior Matt Sampson.
The students said the ironic part about the military presence was that they felt the airport’s security checkpoints were much more relaxed compared to airports in the U.S.
The group said at O’Hare Airport in Chicago they were asked to remove their shoes, belts, jewelry and more at one checkpoint.
“I remember when we were leaving Brussels several people made comments like ‘this was so fast, we went straight through, we didn’t even need to take off our shoes’,” said Sampson.
All day Tuesday, the group said they’ve been getting texts and calls from concerned friends and family. Many had no idea if the students had even returned from Europe yet.
Luckily they are back from a trip that at one point they wished wouldn’t end, but now couldn’t be more grateful that it did.
“I was just there, that could have been us,” said Sampson who wondered what might have happened if their flight got delayed. “Anything could have kept us there for two more days and then that would have been us.”
Crow said the attacks are a learning lesson that terror can strike anywhere saying, “You always think ‘oh it’s across (the ocean), we don’t really have to worry about it, it’s sad for all those people.’ But now you realize it’s terrifying. Like it is so sad for those families and their friends of the people, I mean they have to live in that kind of fear.”
“These attacks are meant to (instill fear),” said Sampson. “For me like you can’t live your life in fear of something that could possibly happen because, one, you’re letting them win by doing that and letting that affect your life.”
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Eli Lilly officials say all 275 of its employees in Belgium “have been accounted for and are safe” following a terrorist attack that killed at least 31 people and injured more than 200.
The Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant also announced Tuesday that it would restrict travel to Brussels for its employees for the remainder of the week.
- PHOTOS: Brussels terror attacks
“Following the explosions reported in Brussels this morning, Lilly Global Security has confirmed that all Lilly and Elanco employees travelling in and through Brussels have been accounted for and are safe. There is no known threat to Lilly sites in Belgium. Importantly, Lilly has protocols to deal with any sort of emergency or crisis events,” Lilly spokesman Edward Sagebiel said in an email to I-Team 8.
The attacks at the Brussels airport and a metro station rocked Europe Tuesday morning and led to condemnation from both President Obama and the U.N. Security Council. An image from closed circuit television from the airport showed two men wearing black gloves on their left hands. Reuters and other news outlets reported that this has led to speculation that the men were perhaps able to conceal a detonation device.
A raid on an apartment in Brussels also turned up an explosive devices with chemicals and nails. An ISIS flag was also discovered. A search continued Tuesday night for a third suspect who is believed to have escaped.
The terrorist organization ISIS has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks.Wire reports contributed to this story.
WASHINGTON (AP) – In a rare Oval Office address, President Barack Obama vowed Sunday night the United States would overcome a terror threat that has entered a “new phase” as he sought to reassure Americans shaken by recent attacks in Paris and California.
“I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure,” he said, speaking from a lectern in his West Wing office.
The president’s speech followed Wednesday’s shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people and wounded 21. Authorities say a couple carried out the attack and the wife pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and its leader in a Facebook post.
Obama said that while there was no evidence that the shooters were directed by a terror network overseas or part of a broader plot, “the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization.”
“This was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people,” he said in the 13-minute address.
The president announced no significant shift in U.S. strategy and offered no new policy prescriptions for defeating the Islamic State, underscoring both his confidence in his current approach and the lack of easy options for countering the extremist group. He did call on Congress to tighten America’s visa waiver program and to pass a new authorization for military actions underway against IS in Iraq and Syria.
The president also reiterated his call for tightening U.S. gun laws, saying no matter how effective law enforcement and intelligence are, they can’t identify every would-be shooter. He called it a matter of national security to prevent potential killers from getting guns.
In speaking from the Oval Office, Obama turned to a tool of the presidency that he has used infrequently. He’s made televised statements from the Oval Office just twice, the last in 2010 when he announced the end of combat missions in Iraq.
While Obama has spoken frequently about the Islamic State in recent news conferences and other events, the decision to speak in prime-time reflected concern among his advisers that his message isn’t breaking through. The White House has been particularly concerned about the heated rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates about Muslims.
The president implored Americans to not turn against Muslims at home, saying the Islamic State was driven by a desire to spark a war between the West and Islam. Still, he called on Muslims in the U.S. and around the world to take up the cause of fighting extremism.
The spread of radical Islam, he said, is “a real problem that Muslims most confront without excuse.”
Here is the full transcript of his speech:
Good evening. On Wednesday, 14 Americans were killed as they came together to celebrate the holidays. They were taken from family and friends who loved them deeply. They were white and black; Latino and Asian; immigrants and American-born; moms and dads; daughters and sons. Each of them served their fellow citizens and all of them were part of our American family.
Tonight, I want to talk with you about this tragedy, the broader threat of terrorism, and how we can keep our country safe.
The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino, but here is what we know. The victims were brutally murdered and injured by one of their coworkers and his wife. So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs. So this was an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.
Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. In the process, we’ve hardened our defenses — from airports to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots here and overseas, and worked around the clock to keep us safe. Our military and counterterrorism professionals have relentlessly pursued terrorist networks overseas — disrupting safe havens in several different countries, killing Osama bin Laden, and decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.
Over the last few years, however, the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase. As we’ve become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turned to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009; in Chattanooga earlier this year; and now in San Bernardino. And as groups like ISIL grew stronger amidst the chaos of war in Iraq and then Syria, and as the Internet erases the distance between countries, we see growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers and the San Bernardino killers.
For seven years, I’ve confronted this evolving threat each morning in my intelligence briefing. And since the day I took this office, I’ve authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad precisely because I know how real the danger is. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people. As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and coworkers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris. And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.
Well, here’s what I want you to know: The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it. We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless, and by drawing upon every aspect of American power.
Here’s how. First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary. In Iraq and Syria, airstrikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure. And since the attacks in Paris, our closest allies — including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom — have ramped up their contributions to our military campaign, which will help us accelerate our effort to destroy ISIL.
Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we’re deploying Special Operations Forces who can accelerate that offensive. We’ve stepped up this effort since the attacks in Paris, and we’ll continue to invest more in approaches that are working on the ground.
Third, we’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operations — to disrupt plots, cut off their financing, and prevent them from recruiting more fighters. Since the attacks in Paris, we’ve surged intelligence-sharing with our European allies. We’re working with Turkey to seal its border with Syria. And we are cooperating with Muslim-majority countries — and with our Muslim communities here at home — to counter the vicious ideology that ISIL promotes online.
Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has begun to establish a process — and timeline — to pursue ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian war. Doing so will allow the Syrian people and every country, including our allies, but also countries like Russia, to focus on the common goal of destroying ISIL — a group that threatens us all.
This is our strategy to destroy ISIL. It is designed and supported by our military commanders and counterterrorism experts, together with 65 countries that have joined an American-led coalition. And we constantly examine our strategy to determine when additional steps are needed to get the job done. That’s why I’ve ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa *Waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country. And that’s why I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.
Now, here at home, we have to work together to address the challenge. There are several steps that Congress should take right away.
To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.
We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.
Next, we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can take a hard look at whether they’ve traveled to warzones. And we’re working with members of both parties in Congress to do exactly that.
Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.
My fellow Americans, these are the steps that we can take together to defeat the terrorist threat. Let me now say a word about what we should not do.
We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.
The strategy that we are using now — airstrikes, Special Forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory. And it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil.
Here’s what else we cannot do. We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want. ISIL does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world — including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology. Moreover, the vast majority of terrorist victims around the world are Muslim. If we’re to succeed in defeating terrorism we must enlist Muslim communities as some of our strongest allies, rather than push them away through suspicion and hate.
That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse. Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology that groups like ISIL and al Qaeda promote; to speak out against not just acts of violence, but also those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.
But just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans — of every faith — to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose. That kind of divisiveness, that betrayal of our values plays into the hands of groups like ISIL. Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that.
My fellow Americans, I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity — that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what religion you practice, you are equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law.
Even in this political season, even as we properly debate what steps I and future Presidents must take to keep our country safe, let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional. Let’s not forget that freedom is more powerful than fear; that we have always met challenges — whether war or depression, natural disasters or terrorist attacks — by coming together around our common ideals as one nation, as one people. So long as we stay true to that tradition, I have no doubt America will prevail.
Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Crowds excited for the Big Ten Championship are being encouraged to be more vigilant this weekend.
Authorities don’t want people living in fear, but they want to make sure everyone is prepared for possible emergencies.
As visitors stroll through downtown ahead of the big game, there’s plenty happening on to keep them busy.
“Just the scenery, everything that’s going on I want to take it all in,” said Reta Schwartz, who was visiting from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Georgia Street will turn into a party and the convention center into a playground, but Schwartz isn’t going to let it all distract her.
“I am going to be aware of my surroundings, people, just watch and have fun,” she said.
Her plan is exactly what police are asking people to do in the wake of the shooting in San Bernardino, California.
It was echoed earlier this week by Troy Riggs, Indy’s former public safety director. “Don’t be paranoid, but realize that’s the world we live in today,” he said. “There’s major international threats that we have to be aware of as Americans, and [we should] have a plan. Be prepared but don’t be paranoid.”
Prepared for Big Ten fans means keeping an eye out for yourself and others. Families should also plan spots to meet if they get separated.
“We’re going to stay with each other throughout walking through the city and make sure we don’t get separated and just be with each other at all times,” said Matthew McGavin who was in town from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Businesses aren’t taking any chances, either. Kilroy’s Bar and Grill has two entrances, but only the front entrance will be open during peak hours. The manager said it’ll allow them to better monitor who’s walking in and out since the crowds will be so large.
The restaurant also added more security for Saturday, and it’s a similar move happening at Ike and Jonesy’s.
“That’s just how we’ve done it for 32 years with large crowds,” said Ike and Jonesy’s owner Eric Eichholtz. He isn’t letting the recent shooting phase him nor his staff, and it’s the same mindset we found walking up and down Georgia Street.
“I’m not going to let any of the things, the violence and stuff that has happened in the United States or anywhere, stop me from having the things I want to do,” said Schwartz.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security released a statement Friday emphasizing how perceived threats need to be taken more seriously in light of the San Bernardino shooting.
That means they want people to have a heightened awareness, not just when surrounded by big crowds such as the Big Ten Championship, but also in their neighborhoods and community.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Gov. Mike Pence in an effort to reverse his order blocking the settlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana.
The ACLU is seeking a federal injunction on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration, an agency that is preparing to relocate 19 Syrian refugees in the coming months.
The injunction would permit refugees to receive state payments for assistance that include food stamps, welfare and health services.
It would also insure that Exodus would continue to receive state funding that totals about $900,000 a year.
“If I could talk to Governor Pence I would really actually want him to meet a Syrian family,” said Exodus executive director Carleen Miller, “and to understand why these people are coming and who they are. These are people who are fleeing persecution. They’ve suffered great traumas.”
The lawsuit charges that the governor’s order is unconstitutional because Syrian refugees are being discriminated against based on their national origin.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Syrian refugees will continue to relocate in Indiana despite the governor’s order to close the borders until new security measures are in place.
Exodus Immigration, the largest relocation agency in the state, believes that the governor does not have the authority to stop the immigration of Syrian refugees.
It has plans to relocate 20 or so Syrian refugees to Indiana in the coming months and it is going ahead with those plans.
Also, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit Monday against Pence to stop attempts by the governor to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees.
The suit claims the governor’s actions violate the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
“There is no border around the state of Indiana that prevents people from entering our state who may move freely within the United States,” said ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk in a statement Monday night. “Decisions concerning immigration and refugee resettlement are exclusively the province of the federal government, and attempts to pre-empt that authority violate both equal protection and civil rights laws and intrude on authority that is exclusively federal.”
“And we really truly believe it’s unconstitutional for the governor to do this,” said Exodus Immigration Executive Director Carleen Miller, “and really out of his purview.”
Miller says the agency will defy the governor.
“Well, it is our plan to continue business as usual,” she said. “We have been doing this for 35 years and we will continue to resettle all refugee groups.”
Mike Pence is one of 31 governors who took action.
Over the weekend, the White House posted a letter to Pence from Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson that says most of the refugees are families, victims of torture and children.
The president visited a refugee center in Malaysia.
“Refugees who end up in the United States are the most vetted, scrutinized, thoroughly investigated individuals that ever arrive on American shores,” said Barack Obama.
But those individuals could be denied state services if they come here.
“We will have to rally some private funding in case they don’t get the services they need from the state,” said Miller.
Exodus Immigration has relocated about 25 Syrian refugees to Indiana in the last 15 months.
Catholic Charities has relocated five more.
The governor’s office has not responded to a request for comment.
He wrote an op-ed last week defending his decision.
BRUSSELS (AP) – Belgium’s capital entered a security lockdown Saturday as the government warned of a threat of a repeat of Paris-style attacks, with subways in Brussels closed and heavily armed police and soldiers deployed. At least one suspect from the deadly Paris attacks is at large, and was last seen crossing into Belgium.
Prime Minister Charles Michel said the decision to raise the threat level was taken “based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris … where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time.”
Authorities across Europe, the Mideast and in Washington are trying to determine how a network of primarily French and Belgian attackers with links to Islamic extremists in Syria plotted and carried out the deadliest violence in France in decades – and how many may still be on the run.
A new potential link emerged Saturday in Turkey, where authorities said they detained a 26-year-old Belgian suspected of connections to Islamic extremists – and possibly to the Paris attacks.
Belgium’s national Crisis Center had raised its terrorism alert for the Brussels region to Level 4, which indicates a “serious and immediate threat.” Belgium’s special security Cabinet held an emergency meeting Saturday morning.
Brussels was home to the suspected organizer of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and Belgium has filed charges of “participation in terrorist attacks and participation in the activities of a terrorist organization” against three suspects relating to the Paris attacks.
At least one Paris attacker, Salah Abdeslam, crossed into Belgium the morning after the attacks. A Paris police official and the Paris prosecutor’s office said Saturday they had no firm information on Abdeslam’s whereabouts, including whether he was in the Brussels area.
Heavily armed police and soldiers patrolled Saturday morning at key intersections of the Belgian capital, a city of more than 1 million that is home to the headquarters of the European Union, the NATO alliance and offices of many multinational corporations.
Residents were recommended to avoid gatherings, train stations, airports and commercial districts. Service was halted on the Brussels Metro, as well as on streetcar lines that run underground.
The prime minister, speaking at a news conference after the emergency government meeting, said, “We urge the public not to give in to panic, to stay calm. We have taken the measures that are necessary.”
He said that the government’s crisis cell will meet again on Sunday afternoon to reassess the threat.
In Turkey, authorities detained three suspected Islamic State militants, including a 26-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said Saturday that the two Syrians and the Belgian national – identified as Ahmet D. – were detained near the Turkish coastal city of Antalya. The private Dogan news agency identified the Belgian as Ahmet Dahmani and said he is suspected of having explored areas in Paris that were targeted in the attacks.
A Paris police official said Saturday that he had no information about Dahmani or his possible visit to the attack sites. The Paris prosecutor’s office said it had no information to communicate about Dahmani.
Concerns about Europe’s porous borders prompted interior and justice ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday to promise tightened border controls to make it easier to track the movements of jihadis with European passports traveling to and from warzones in Syria.
Prosecutors said Friday that they had determined through fingerprint checks that two of the seven attackers who died in the bloodshed Nov. 13 had entered Europe through Greece, an entry point for many of the hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking asylum in Europe.
The five other attackers who died had links to France and Belgium. One of the seven dead has not been identified, while a manhunt is underway for one suspect who escaped, 26-year-old Abdeslam. French police stopped Abdeslam the morning after Friday’s attacks at the Belgian border but then let him go. His brother Brahim blew himself up in the Paris attacks.
The suspected ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a raid Wednesday on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.
Marking a week since the carnage, some Parisians lit candles and paid tribute Friday night to the victims with silent reflection. Others decided that enjoying themselves was the best way to defy the extremists. They sang and danced on Place de la Republique, in the heart of a trendy neighborhood where scores of people were killed, most of them in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall.
France’s Parliament has extended a state of emergency for three months, expanding police powers to carry out arrests and searches and allowing authorities to forbid the movement of persons and vehicles at specific times and places.
French President Francois Hollande is also going to Washington and Moscow next week to push for a stronger international coalition against IS.