Host- Ed Berliner: It remains unthinkable to most of us, young people, some from tough conditions, but also those who would seem to have everything they need to succeed. In one moment they are teenagers, young people, smiling faces, getting into the kind of trouble maybe kids have been stuck in for generations. The next minute they are holding rifles, flashing missing teeth smiles and wearing robes of subjugation promising they will kill Americans because they are the enemy of those who kill for little reason. Not merely why this happens, but what can we do to ferret out these misguided souls before they carry out their brainwashed ideals. Let's welcome to Mid-point senior analyst and investigative journalist with the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He can be read at such diverse places as The Daily Caller and Red Alert Politics, John Rossomando joins us. John, thank you so much for being here.
John Rossomando: Thank you for having me. I was listening to your intro and one of the things I would like to start out pointing out is what the Islamic State sells is the concept of being able to live in a perfect utopian Islamic society. They have a lot of common say with the Communists and their view of creating a new world, a new humanity. If you watch the videos that the Islamic State slickly produces to try to seduce jihadists as I do, you'll see them constantly say, 'Leave the land of the unbeliever, leave behind your un-Islamic society and come join us.' Be part of this brave new world. So I think that Ms. Conley likely was seduced by that promise. A lot of converts, whether they're converts to Islam, Catholicism, different religions, they want the more pure form of religion. So it's likely Ms. Conley thought that she was going to become part of a pure form of Islam unlike what the Islamic State describes as a tainted or apostate form of Islam.
Berliner: John, let's talk frankly here when it comes down to these individuals leaving to join ISIS and other groups. What we're talking about here is a generation that has the ability to know more about anything than any of us ever did as far as the Internet is concerned and the ability to look, see videos, to read, to learn. This can be a very educated generation if you will. It's not like the old days, well when I say old days, it could be even 10 years ago when people didn't know what's going on around them. They can see the reality of the situation, they can look at the videos of terrorists, they can look at the butchered videos left behind by these terrorists, executed people, beheaded Americans. And this comes as a real simple question that most people watching this show would likely then ask. How can anybody of any age be so stupid as to decide that this is where they want to spend their life when they have the ability to see everything in front of them, to know exactly what they're getting involved in?
Rossomando: I think that you have, it's idealism. IS says that they want to create a new society and that America, the West, they're killing Muslims. So it becomes a very appealing thing to gain revenge against the West, drumming their other Muslims and so forth. So I think that you have idealism in every generation. One hundred years ago people were running off joining the Communist Revolution in Russia. I think it's the same sort of strain of revolutionary fervor that you have in certain idealistic sectors of society.
Berliner: It's fair to say though when you were looking at things like Communism or Socialism you were looking at people who were looking to live a different way, for people to be more equal in what they did. That certainly was the thought about Communism at that time. Here we though have wanton killers. We have so much evidence that all these people want to do, and I speak about ISIS when I say these people, or any terrorist groups, Hamas if you will, all they want to do is kill as wantonly as possible. So isn't it just a little bit different? This is a frightening revolutionizing if you will of American youth or anybody. This is scarier than anything we've ever faced, is it not?
Rossomando: It's terrifying. But you have to look at the fact that these people are trying to sell the idea that they want to create a pure form of Islam, a pure Islamic society. This is the stuff that pervades their propaganda that you find if you go Twitter, Facebook and social media. And they rationalize the killing, the violence, as revenge for the sins or the atrocities of the West, because they constantly come out with pictures of maimed children, of Muslims who have been killed by American drones to gain sympathy. And then you have radical extreme preachers such as Anjem Choudary in Britain who have an Internet presence who spread this hate, spread this vile. It's something that the American Muslim community needs to take seriously instead of trying to sweep it under the carpet and say it's nothing to do with Islam.
Berliner: Then how do we ferret these people out? I understand that this is a very difficult question. We're talking about psychology that we could probably spend hours on here. But the general people who are watching right now – everybody. How do we find them? How do we see them? How do we mark them? How do we know that somebody is on the verge, or has the possibility of turning to this side here – turning to the dark side if you will and becoming a killer?
Rossomando: I think that you have to pay close attention to social media. This is something that especially the Muslim community needs to take seriously and look for signs of extremist, revolutionary sort of ideas being espoused by members of their community.
Berliner: Do we often many times though just brush those off and say oh that's no big deal, it's just a kid going through something, or it's just a phase. Isn't that really where we are at?
Rossomando: We do. Just look at Maj. Nidal Hasan. His imam in the Washington, D.C. area said that he never saw anything about him. Maybe he saw some signs about Maj. Hasan becoming an extremist and decided to do nothing. So I think that the American Muslim community needs to wake up and stop trying to pretend that this isn't a problem.
Berliner: We have a few minutes left, and I want to hit exactly on where you are right there. There have been reports from a number of communities, certainly in Minnesota, Colorado and others where they find, and this is something people can check out, we're not just throwing this out here, that there are terrorist connections to certain Muslim groups and certain factions, and even certain mosques if you will in certain cities in America. It's not everyone, but there are those out there that have these connections. In your view of what's gone on here, and in your opinion, are there more than we believe? Should we be very suspect? And this is a tough thing to say over and over again, but should we continue to be much more suspect of what comes into our communities in these versions of mosques and under the guise of peace?
Rossomando: Absolutely. Take the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va. where two of the hijackers went to Friday prayers, where Anwar Awlaki was the imam. They have an imam there now named Shaker Elsayed who appeared at a Northern Virginia high school talking about Muslim men being first for arms for jihad. We got a book from there talking about embracing arms for re-establishing the Caliphate. And you bring up Minnesota. Just two weeks ago, Al-Shabaab released a recruiting video calling on Muslims living in Minnesota to join up. And then on top of it you have groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations that do everything they can to deter the FBI from following leads and potentially stopping plots. And you also have some imams who issue fatwas saying that cooperating with the FBI is not permissible under Islamic law because they harm Muslims.
Berliner: I've got about 30 seconds left then. Would your suggestion then that Muslims here in America need to take more of a forward role here in making sure that they tell people this is not all of us; this is a certain faction, and we are the ones who are also going to help make sure that this country is not hurt and these people are subjugating our religion?
Rossomando: Absolutely. They need to do more than just condemn. They need to develop a counter-narrative to counter the jihadist propaganda that talks about how you interpret the Quran or how you talk about Islam. And so far they have not done so. All they have done is accuse people who raise objections of being Islamophobes, of being bigots. What we need to see is a more proactive, public, an aggressive counter-jihadist message from them. Unless they can, they don't have any credibility.
Berliner: All right John we're all out of time but thank you so much for your time and your comments. John Rossomando. Stay with us. Mid-Point continues.