'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: November 19, 2015
Guest: Wendy Sherman; Nafees Hamid; Scott Atran, Brian Jenkins
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Operation Inherent Resolve. That
is the Pentagon`s name for the American war against the Islamic State.
The ground war that some American soldiers are already engaged in. They
are supposed to serve primarily as advisors.
But that ground war now has its first American casualty, the first American
soldier killed in the war against ISIS.
A war that the leading presidential candidates now say they want to
escalate in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
One of those candidates will get the chance to send more troops into battle
with ISIS after being sworn in as president in 2017.
Even Bernie Sanders now says he would send ground troops as a last resort.
And in military matters, America has a history of moving to its last resort
Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was killed in battle with ISIS on October
22nd. He was buried yesterday in Arlington National Cemetery.
Sergeant Wheeler was a member of the elite Delta Force, a highly decorated
combat veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Master Sergeant Wheeler was killed in a successful mission to rescue 70
hostages who were about to be executed by ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have now heard from rescued hostages. They expected
to be executed that day after morning prayers.
Their graves had already been prepared. Not only did our support help
provide another mass killing, we enabled those partners of ours to deliver
ISIL a clear defeat and prevented them from broadcasting a horrific
massacre to the world.
You know, this is someone who saw the team that he was advising and
assisting coming under attack. And he rushed to their -- to help them and
made it possible for them to be effective.
And in doing that lost his own life. That`s why I`m proud of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler from Roland, Oklahoma, was 39
years old. He leaves his wife, four sons, his grandfather and grandmother.
We saw the American troop commitment in Vietnam escalate from a small
number of advisors like Sergeant Wheeler to hundreds of thousands of troops
over more than a decade of war.
The United States army has now buried its first soldier lost in the war
against ISIS. And tonight, we may be many years away from the last funeral
for the last American soldier killed in a war against ISIS.
A war made more likely to escalate because nine terrorists decided to bring
their war to the streets of Paris, Friday night.
We will be joined later by two experts on ISIS who say that escalating war
is the war that ISIS wants.
But first, there were more raids in France and Belgium today, we will get
updates on all of that beginning in Paris with Nbc`s Kelly Cobiella.
Kelly, what`s the situation there tonight?
KELLY COBIELLA, NBC NEWS: Well, Lawrence, there were more raids today both
in Belgium and in France.
And we`re learning more about the female suicide bomber, the woman who blew
herself up during the raid in Saint-Denis, at north Paris suburb yesterday
That same raid which killed the so-called linchpin, the ringleader in the
Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. This is a picture of her.
She is a woman in her mid 20s. She is believed to be the cousin of
Abaaoud, born in Paris of Moroccan descent, a Moroccan father.
And in conversations with neighbors and friends and relatives, the
descriptions of her are of someone who is not particularly religious,
someone who was not believed to be going in any sort of extremist way.
Suggestions that she was more of a directionless young woman who -- and a
troubled young woman who may, in fact, have been involved in drugs and
potentially wrapped up in -- I hate to say it, but the wrong crowd.
Someone who was not believed to be a person who will end up being an
Islamic extremist. That`s what we know about her right now and this is
all, again, reported from witnesses, from neighbors, from people who say
they knew her when she was younger.
Now, let`s take a step back and look at the raid that happened in Saint-
Denis yesterday morning. We`re hearing from the leader of the SWAT team,
essentially, the French version of the SWAT team who went in yesterday
He spoke to France`s "Bfm TV" and he described how that raid played out.
He said they went in at 4:16 in the morning, they didn`t have a plan of --
they didn`t have a description of the apartment building itself.
They knew where the front door was, and that was about it. They attached -
- he said they attached glass charges, explosives to that door.
The door didn`t blow through, and he said that -- they lost the element of
surprise. Those blasts didn`t work. They lost the element of surprise.
It gave the people inside enough time to arm themselves, to put on suicide
vests or belts. And then this intense gun battle began.
It lasted some 30 to 45 minutes, he says, and then there`s a pause and
that`s when there`s a conversation with one of these special police unit
members, and the female suicide bomber inside.
And I think we can listen to that now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COBIELLA: So, a violent explosion. And then later on, we know now that
this entire operation lasted some seven hours, seven hours plus.
Later on, more explosions, more gunfire. The raid leader saying that they
used everything in our arsenal, drones to look inside the apartment,
robots, the police dog who sadly was killed in this operation, and, of
course, it ended in a very violent way with explosions on the third floor.
The floor of the apartment actually collapsing, and such an intense raid
that they had trouble identifying Abaaoud in the end, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Kelly, the story of this suicide bomber, the young woman is so
striking because her -- the speed of her conversion into extremism seems to
be what is so striking about that.
We`re going to have some experts on later tonight talking about how that
happens. But it seems, in her case, this is one of those cases where it
seems to have been fairly quick according to what you`re just telling us.
COBIELLA: Yes, for the young woman, who as I said, appears to have been
fairly directionless, didn`t really have a strong family around her.
Didn`t have necessarily a job, not necessarily good upbringing. It`s not
very clear how involved her parents were, but her father is believed to be
living in Morocco now.
He`s gone back to Morocco. And she had this contact with her cousin
Abaaoud who clearly had allegiances to Islamic State.
I think we need to wait for a while to see exactly how this played out and
why she became radicalized. But it may be that connection to Abaaoud.
O`DONNELL: Kelly Cobiella in Paris, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, Kelly, really appreciate it. Coming up now from Brussels, is
Nbc`s foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin.
Ayman, the searches are continuing, raids continuing in Brussels.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. I mean,
with the news of the death of the ringleader, the manhunt now for the
eighth attacker believed to have been involved in that Paris attacks last
Friday has now intensified.
And as you mentioned, there was an intense search and raid operation today
across various districts here in Brussels. There were two sets of raids.
And it is important to make this distinction, Lawrence. The first set of
raids, six raids, were actually investigations that were launched prior to
the attacks in Paris.
They surrounded or they were involving an individual who ended up being an
attacker in the Paris attacks. That individual by the name of Bilhar
Those six raids yielded an arrest of seven individuals believed to be close
associates or at least associates of one of the Paris suicide bombers.
The second set of raids that happened in the afternoon were raids based on
intelligence that was gathered following the Paris attack.
Now, the reason why that distinction is so important, there is some
questioning already of the Belgian government, of the Belgian security
forces, why they had waited so long to carry out some of the raids and
searches that they carried out this afternoon.
Based on intelligence and investigations that were open prior to the Paris
attacks last Friday.
So, you can expect them to come in days, there`s going to be some serious
questioning whether or not there was intelligence that was ready and
actionable that they did not pursue more rigorously.
Meanwhile, the country`s Prime Minister today put forth a proposal to the
country`s parliament, really asking for a lot more powers to try and fight
Now, in the past several months, this country here has had a few major
plots set in Belgium and executed either in Paris or here in the country.
So that now has become a major focus of this current government. In this
new proposal, the Prime Minister wants to increase the number of security
personnel in the country by at least 500.
He wants to step up intelligence sharing. He even wants to set up police
checkpoints on the border around Belgium.
And perhaps, even begin to carry out some tracking of fighters that have
gone to fight in Syria and have come back to automatically be put in
To either have their citizenship revoked. So a lot of proposals that he
has put forth to the -- to the Belgium parliament that are more likely than
not to pass, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you very much for joining us again
tonight from Brussels, really appreciate it.
Well, we`re joined now by Laura Haim, a White House correspondent and U.S.
Bureau Chief for Canal Plus.
Laura, the search for that -- the final participant in the attacks in
Paris, Friday night seems to be the final, most important part of the
mission for French police.
Where are they on that?
LAURA HAIM, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT & WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CANAL
PLUS: There`s a manhunt and French police is extremely worried about what
could happen next.
Tonight, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls went on French TV and said
the threat is still there, it`s not over, we have to be careful, and as the
Prime Minister, I have to tell you the truth, it`s not over.
People inside the investigation team are extremely worried about what could
happen next. They don`t know if this man was part of the 7 unit against
the restaurant in France or if he crossed Belgium.
At this moment according to our sources, they don`t have a clue and they`re
extremely worried about the fact that he might be active, he might do
I just want to tell you also that there`s another body which has been
discovered in the building where the red went two days ago.
People think it might be him, but sources close to the investigation are
telling us that, for the moment, they don`t think it`s him.
And again there`s a manhunt to find him all over France and all over
O`DONNELL: And Laura, what about the report that the organizer of the
attacks, there was a report of his death earlier some years ago, that
turned out to be false.
And French authorities are now reviewing that and they now see that this
may well be ISIS` plan, is to -- is to make it appear as though some
operatives like this have been killed so that they are then -- the law
enforcement attention in Europe on them drops.
Obviously because they believe they`re dead, and that`s part of what
allowed him to move back and forth through Europe.
HAIM: Yes, that`s what the investigators tell us and it`s absolutely
fascinating and horrible. Basically, those young people left their
families, go to Syria, that`s the case of Abaaoud.
He left his family for an unknown reason, we don`t know why he became so
radicalized, because when you see what he did during his childhood, he was
a nice kid, he went to a Catholic school.
He had a shop for clothes, and then he became fully radicalized and in
2013, he left for Syria and he completely broke with his family.
Then he connected his younger brother to go to Syria, the youngest brother
was 13 years old and he was the youngest Jihadist in the world.
Abaaoud was apparently extremely proud of that, and he cut off ties with
the family. And what`s striking is that, someone came to his family and
said to his father and mother, your son is dead.
So at this moment, the sister said God bless you because we don`t want to
allege anymore -- Abaaoud in our family. And it was completely false.
And in fact, according to some investigators I spoke with, it`s a kind of
pattern. ISIS militants who are going to Syria, especially people who are
born in a country like France and who are living their home country to go
to Syria want their families to think they`re dead.
So like that they think that the intelligence agencies all over the world
are also going to think they`re dead. The French investigators are telling
me that it`s not the first time it`s happening.
Abaaoud did that, he basically wanted to make sure that the intelligence
agencies were not looking after him. And he had someone telling his family
that it was -- he was dead and it was not true.
O`DONNELL: (AUDIO GAP 00:00:17-20) organizer of the Paris attacks bragged
about getting into Europe, in and out of Europe unchecked.
We will be -- we will talk about that. Also coming up, Ben Carson and
Donald Trump take their anti-Syrian refugee rhetoric to a whole other
O`DONNELL: A deadly explosion on Tuesday in Nigeria is presumed to be the
work of the terrorist group Boko Haram. At least 32 people were killed and
about 80 more were injured in that explosion.
According to the new global terrorism index, Boko Haram is actually the
deadliest terrorist organization in the world. Boko Haram is responsible
for 6,644 deaths in 2014.
The Islamic State was responsible for about 600 fewer than that, 6,073
deaths in that year. Up next, how the organizer of the Paris attacks was
able to get into France and move through Europe despite being on a terror
Are the European borders not secure enough? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Months ago, the organizer of the Paris attacks boasted in an
ISIS publication that he was able to pass between Syria and Europe despite
being on an anti-terror watchlist.
In the February issue of "Dabiq" magazine, he said, "I was able to leave
despite being chased after by so many intelligence agencies.
All this proves that a Muslim should not fear the bloated image of the
crusader intelligence. My name and picture were all over the news, yet I
was able to stay in their homeland, plan operations against them and leave
safely when doing so became necessary."
European immigration officials speaking to the U.K. newspaper, "The
Telegraph" say that in some countries, as few as 1 percent of the people
entering the European Union country get properly checked against the anti-
The average number of people checked against the anti-terror watchlist by
EU countries is between 10 percent and 20 percent.
Joining us now, Brian Jenkins; a terrorism expert who testified before the
Senate Homeland Security Committee today.
Mr. Jenkins, your assessment of the European border situation, and are we
in a new age where those open borders thought to be what the modern world
would look like in Europe no longer work?
BRIAN JENKINS, EXPERT, TERRORISM & TRANSPORTATION SECURITY: Well, we have
-- we have separate issues. We have the borders that surround Europe and
then the borders once you`re inside Europe.
Clearly, the borders around Europe in the Balkans and along the
Mediterranean have broken down because of the tremendous influx of
refugees, because of simply the difficulty of sealing those borders.
Because in many cases, some of the countries on those frontiers have very
limited resources to do that.
The separate issue are the borders in Europe, even in the Schengen area;
the core of Europe which allows free travel.
So, once one is in Germany or France or Belgium, one can cross borders
without any of the formalities that we are accustomed to in going in and
out of the United States.
O`DONNELL: French Prime Minister today said, they are now concerned about
the possible risk of chemical and biological weapons making it into Europe.
What do we know about that at this point?
JENKINS: Well, this is not the first time that this has come up as a
concern. In 2003 or so, there were a number of reports and a number of
findings of small quantities of ricin that were being manufactured by
There were some other plots that reportedly involved some deadly chemicals.
These were not in huge quantities, but certainly even in limited quantities
could cause a great deal of alarm.
O`DONNELL: What do you make of those percentages that I talked about it at
the beginning of this segment in terms of the checks that Europeans are
using against the terror watchlists.
Should those percentages be higher?
JENKINS: You know, look, there are several problems here. First of all,
when we talk about the list, there is not a complete list that includes all
of the names that all of the European countries are looking for.
Intelligence is one of the last bastions of sovereignty. And the level of
cooperation among the European countries themselves in the area of
intelligence and law enforcement, while it clearly has improved, it is
proving not to be adequate.
To the extent that that cord nation is lacking under current circumstances,
we are likely to see the reimposition of border controls which is a
challenge to the core idea of the European Union itself.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean, to -- it would be in American terms like having
border controls between New York State and Vermont.
And that`s what they -- as they were modeling this, that`s what they`re
looking at, the United States, and that massive economic market where no
one has to pass through any borders of any kind.
And this was the thing that they were trying to emulate. At what point in
this fear of terrorism is the balance shifted between that and the economic
freedom that they were looking for with this border situation?
JENKINS: Well, we`re already seeing the reimposition of innocence in
formal of border controls.
For example, as trains come in to France from other countries, there will
be -- there will be authorities on those -- on those trains doing some --
doing some checks.
We`ve already seen also as a consequence of the huge influx of refugees, a
number of countries are building fences or walls. So, in a piecemeal way,
it`s coming back.
O`DONNELL: Brian Jenkins, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
JENKINS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Ben Carson and Donald Trump are raising the rhetoric
level against Syrian refugees coming into the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Nobody can tell me that we
don`t have the ability to look at a grandmother who`s come out of a country
in war-torn situation with her grand kids or something and not be able to
determine whether or not those people represent a threat.
It`s inappropriate for America of all countries in the world to panic and
to somehow turn our backs on our fundamental values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We now turn to Andrea Mitchell for a report on the political
debate over Syrian refugees coming to the United States.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Today, the
fear about Syrian refugees got ugly on the campaign trail.
BEN CARSON, AUTHOR & RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: You know, if there`s a rabid
dog running around your neighborhood, you`re probably not going to assume
something good about that dog.
And you`re probably going to put your children out of the way. We have to
have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad
dogs are, quite frankly.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Donald
Trump telling yahoo he wouldn`t rule out requiring Muslims to register and
carry identifications and Trump saying Syrians are coming.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Syrians are now being caught at
the southern border, just like I said. They`re going to be pouring in, we
don`t know who they are. Could be ISIS.
MITCHELL: In fact, two Syrian families, including four children presented
themselves focus toms in Texas asking for asylum. In Manila, the president
accused Republican law make of playing politics.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea that somehow they
pose a more significant threat than all of the tourists who pour into the
United States every single day just doesn`t jibe with reality.
MITCHELL: Hours later, 47 Democrats voted against the president joining
Republicans to virtually stop refugees from Syria and Iraq from coming to
the U.S., by requiring the homeland security secretary, the FBI director
and head of national intelligence to personal certify that each applicant
is not a threat. An impossible task going against the tide, Hillary
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Turning away orphan, applying
a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on
every Syrian refugee. That is just not who we are.
MITCHELL: In Alabama tonight, Ben Carson again compared some Syrian
refugees to rabid dogs. But called the news media dishonest for reporting
his comments as the Paris attacks start fuelling an angry debate here at
home - Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Andrea.
Up next, our guests say that the reaction in France and the United States
to the attacks in Paris is exactly what ISIS was trying to provoke.
O`DONNELL: What does the Islamic state really want? Does it want a war on
the streets of Paris, or does it want a war with well-equipped French-
American soldiers on battlefields in Syria and Iraq?
Joining us now, the authors of the article "the War ISIS wants," in the New
York review in books, Nafees Hamid is fellow at Artist International and a
member of the terrorism and organized research group at University College
London, Scott Atran is that director of research at Francis National center
for scientific research and a senior fellow at Artist International.
And the first paragraph of your piece, you write that President Francois
Hollande vows to be merciless in the fight for the barbarian of the Islamic
state is unfortunately precisely what ISIS intended. Why would they intend
SCOTT ATRAN, AUTHOR, THE WAR ISIS WANTS: Well, their manifesto is called
(INAUDIBLE) which means the management of savagery or chaos. So they are
looking for chaos everywhere they can find it in the world and to fill the
gap. And where there isn`t chaos, their idea is to create it so they can
draw a wedge between non-Muslims and Muslims to destroy what they call the
gray zone where most people are located and produce a polarized world where
Muslims will have no choice because they`re being persecuted all over the
world, but to join them.
O`DONNELL: Nafees Hamid, do they believe that if they do all that and they
create all this chaos and they create this war that they could lose this
NAFEES HAMID, AUTHOR, THE WAR ISIS WANTS: I don`t think they are so
worried about that. They know that they have almost (INAUDIBLE)
likeability that if they get their head cut off, let`s say in Syria, that
they can decentralize, they can pop-up somewhere. And with the, for
instance, like the volcanoes of jihad speech that Baghdadi gave, he sees
jihad as not necessarily just being in one particular location, but
erupting all over the world. So in some sense, they see themselves as just
being able to manifest themselves continuously. That Jihad doesn`t have to
physically be in any one particular location.
O`DONNELL: Scott, what reaction would you recommend in both France and the
United States to what happened in Paris?
ATRAN: Well, there is a short-term and a long-term reaction. I mean, the
short term, the Islamic state must be destroyed but not destroyed with our
own ground troops. That would be a disaster. Then we already have Al-
Qaeda 2.0, which is much more noxious than the old Al-Qaeda. We`ll get
What we should do, I think, as I wrote with general stone back in "The New
York Times" back in April is give the means necessary to the people who can
do the job, for example, the Kurds including the BKK and the YPG. But in
the long run, we have got to find a way to embrace the people who are going
to join ISIS. I mean, this is a struggle for future generations. And what
we find is that the whole discourse throughout the Muslim world is being
shaped now by what ISIS has done. For example, one imam in Barcelona that
told us, look, we are against the violence of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic
state, but the caliphates is always been in our hearts and it is here to
stay and they put us on the map. We are here now.
O`DONNELL: They mean the Islamic state put us on the map?
ATRAN: Put us on the map. We were the forgotten people of Europe. Now,
people take notice of who we are. We don`t want their violence. We do
want a caliphate. Maybe it will be like a European Union of Muslim
peoples. But if we ignore those passions like some of our diplomats doing
saying that it`s just fantasy, then we risk fanning them.
O`DONNELL: Nafees, is it possible to destroy the Islamic state? I have
seen estimates that there may be 40,000 Islamic state fighters, actual
soldiers, American military estimates say that completely destroy a force
of 40,000, you would need 200,000 opposing troops. That would minimum of
well over 100,000 American troops in order to get a force that big.
HAMID: I think it`s a difference of a question of whether you are thinking
of ISIS as a physical group or whether you are thinking of it as an idea.
Once again, it can manifest itself in many different forms. The important
thing that when I`m out interviewing people in Barcelona in Paris and
London who have sympathies to the Islamic states, it`s not sympathies
towards any one particular group. In fact, when you read about defectors
who left the Islamic state, they left precisely because they started
feeling like this was a group that started becoming interested in its own
self-preservation. They started becoming too interested in finding out if
there were spies or apostates within their ranks.
These guys are not fighting for the survival of ISIS. They`re fighting for
this conception of an alternate society, something that`s counter to the
society that western nations have tried to create, a more materialistic
society, a more corruptible democratic system, one that`s deprived of
spirituality. And that`s the counter society they are trying to create.
O`DONNELL: And Scott, you have found -- you are out there talking to young
people who are attracted to ISIS, who are susceptible to what it is they
are selling. And you are finding that sympathies are much more widespread
than I think most people suspect.
ATRAN: Yes. I mean, we find for example, in suburbs in places like Paris
or London or Barcelona that 20 percent of them are converts from Christian
families. And that it is the most, it is the strongest counter culture
movement in the world today. I mean, they have absorbed people from 90
countries. They appeal to a wide range of people. And the way they do it
They search for what`s in the history of each one, a personal grievance, a
frustrated aspiration and they wedded to this notion, this story they have
of a golden age that can be recovered. And the way we are trying to
counter it with lectures and repetitive masked messaging.
But one young girl from Syria, she emailed another and said I know leaving
your family is going to be the hardest thing you`ve ever done in your life,
but there are other things to do in life, there are greater things to do in
life. And let me take the time to help you explain that to yourself so you
can explain that to them when you come. And the counter narratives that
we`re getting is simply, you know, they are bad, they behead people, they
do terrible things to women, like didn`t we know that already?
O`DONNELL: Nafees, when you hear the story of this young woman who became
a suicide bomber the other night in Paris when that raid was going on, and
we heard about her basically progressing to extremism relatively quickly.
She sounds like some of the people you talk about in this article that
HAMID: Yes. I mean, feelings of frustration, of being disaffected, of a
personal grievance, of moral outrage can build over years and years and
years. But often times the transition from just being a regular person to
someone who is willing to fight and die happens relatively quickly. And
the important thing to understand is that these people are not
transitioning to just become a devout Muslim. They are transitioning
specifically to become a (INAUDIBLE) which is a Muslim warrior. And it`s
kind of like when people don`t understand why these people want to go off
and fight and die, it`s like asking why would someone want to become a
In their minds, these people are modern samurai. I was talking to one guy
from London who is in Syria right now. He originally went there to join
ISIS and then he switched to Jabhat al-Nusra which is the Al-Qaeda
affiliate. And he was saying, when I was younger, I used to read these
religious texts and these history books about these ancient Islamic
warriors. And I would picture the Middle East. And I would picture these
two deserts and these two armies, there beautiful horses with warriors on
top of them, but swords out, flags flailing and coming at each other. And
I thought to myself, what`s the modern equivalent of this? Well, the
horses are replaced by Toyota pickup trucks, the swords are replaced with
Kalashnikovs. And those flags are the flags of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
And so, being a (INAUDIBLE) today is being part of that lineage, that
history, that culture of honor that they want to associate themselves with.
O`DONNELL: And Scott, as I read your article, the religious component
becomes less important than it does in other analysis that I`ve seen
especially the religious history of some of these people. They do not come
from religious backgrounds. Eighty percent from nonreligious families in
what you` found out about that.
ATRAN: Yes. They are almost all from youth, from transitional stages in
life between jobs, girlfriends, students, immigrants, having left their
native family and looking for new family, fellow travelers in France. And
they are born again in their late teens and early 20s. Very few have any
kind of religious education. They have no role in this hardly at all.
And when interview ISIS guys in the Middle East, just a few months ago.
None of them had any idea of what was in the Koran other than what they
have been told by al-Qaeda and ISIS. They didn`t know who the first
caliphs are which is the basis for all of ISIS is.
ISIS is a repertory of ideas, but ISIS provides a message that is powerful.
And that speaks as Orwell said in his review of Hitler`s mind cuff, its
peaks to the notion of glory and adventure and self-sacrifice. And human
beings intermittently need that. And what we are offering on the other
side is ease, security, avoid answer of risk. It can`t compete.
O`DONNELL: Nafees Hamid and Scaott Atran, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight. Really appreciate it.
Coming up, one of the negotiators of the Iran nuclear deal, Ambassador
Wendy Sherman will join us with her analysis of the situation against the
O`DONNELL: French president Francois Hollande travels to Washington on
Tuesday to meet with President Obama. Two days later, President Hollande
will meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. He is expected to urge the United
States and Russian to escalate their military attacks on ISIS, which we
just heard from our last guests is exactly what ISIS is hoping will happen.
Joining us now is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, a resident fellow at the Art
Institute of Politics and the former undersecretary of state for political
affairs. She was one of the American negotiators in the U.S./Iran deal.
Ambassador Sherman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. What do
you make of the analysis that we just heard that ISIS wants chaos and so
welcomed a heavy military response, wants to meet Americans on the
battlefield in Syria and Iraq? And if that is true, how should that affect
our calculations, American calculations about how to react here?
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS:
I think we have a lot of things going on here, Lawrence. Many years ago
when the (INAUDIBLE) project first went around the world to find out how
people responded to globalization. They found out the people, particularly
young people, liked what they got. They liked the new foods, they liked
the different kinds of jobs. They liked American technology, the iPhones
and everything, cell phones were coming online. But they also found out
that people were frightened of modernity. They`re afraid of losing
themselves. And we know psychologically young people are losing their
identity, who they are, and they can be pooled very quickly into any kind
of a movement.
So I take the point about the movement, but at some level to the American
people, to the people in Paris, to the people in Lebanon, to the people in
Baghdad, to the people in Nigeria, it doesn`t matter because they feel
their lives are at risk. They are concerned about their security.
So I think we`ve heard from President Obama, we`ve heard from Secretary
Kerry. We heard from Secretary Clinton today that we really have a
multipronged strategy here that we have to undertake here. It is defeating
ISIL dash. And how to do that, no one is suggesting massive ground troops
among those three, because massive ground troops might get that reaction if
it`s American troops that, in fact, it probably needs to be people on the
ground to our local who are regional who have a stake in the action.
But we have also talk about taking apart the infrastructure, the way this
is funded and financed, and thirdly to help defend against this, to help
Europe support and protect its borders. But I think that this issue of
propaganda, of public diplomacy, of messaging is very critical. President
Obama has increased that effort. Secretary Clinton talked about starting
the global counterterrorism fund. And really secretary Kerry has got
undersecretary Stengel to move forward efforts of public diplomacy all over
the world, to understand what motivates people to do these things and to
try to counter message that and find a different way to attract them to a
different life and a different world.
So although, I think their analysis is probably has reality to it, at some
level, it only takes you so far. You then have to still defeat ISIL
because it is a threat. You have to un-take the infrastructure with which
will go on to al-Qaeda point-three. I agree with that. To the Boko Harams
of the world, to the other self of the world. And you have to make sure
that the defenses of each of our countries is strong enough to get us
through with resolve as secretary Clinton said today, not with fear.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Sherman, could you give us a time frame for the
strategy you just outlined?
SHERMAN: Well, it`s going to take some time. I think that we can protect
ourselves better. And I think one of the things I`m sure that president
Hollande and President Obama will talk about is things that we learned
after 9 $11. I thought that major de Blasio and the police commissioner in
New York were phenomenal last night in basically saying we learned a lot.
We are going to keep you safe. Everybody should be on the alert, but we
are not going to let fear take over. We are not going to be intimidated.
We are not going to play that game. We are not going to give into that
fear. We welcome refugees in our country. That`s what the statue of
liberty stands there and says.
And so, I think we have got to share what we learned. We have to share
better intelligence. So we have to help Europe because they have migration
that happens over land. We have got two oceans that don`t b protect us
completely as we well understand, but offer us more protection. But we
also have to deal with this issue of public diplomacy and messaging is
absolutely masterful of making use of the internet and we have to get
better at it.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us
tonight and please come back. Thank you very much.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, why hope is the last word about the news media`s use
of the term mastermind.
O`DONNELL: And now, tonight`s "Last Word."
I began last night`s program with a note to the American news media,
especially TV news, about why we shouldn`t call the organizer of the Paris
attacks a mastermind.
Mastermind glorifies this high school dropout who manage to get 129 people
killed before he got himself killed. We don`t call American mass murderers
masterminds when they shoot and kill unarmed people in our movie theater,
in our schools, in our churches. We don`t pay them that compliment,
U.S. army veteran (INAUDIBLE), they killed more people where they track
bomb in Oklahoma city that were killed in Paris and no one granted him
mastermind status. There is, in fact, no such thing a mastermind.
Mastermind is a cartoon concept, not an accurate journalist description.
The front page headline in today`s "New York Times" use the word organizer.
"The Washington Post" headline said leader. Both accurate journalistic
descriptions. This network stopped using the word mastermind today, but
most TV news continues to send the mastermind message around the world.
TV news comes out of the same screen that our entertainment comes out of,
so the line between the two gets blurred sometimes. TV news writers
sometimes use the language of screenwriters, in this case, James Bond
screenwriters who for two hours at least in a movie theatre need you to
believe there are masterminds out there.
ISIS wants you to believe in master minds, too. ISIS wants you to believe
they have master minds in Europe and in the United States. ISIS wants you
to live in fear of their master minds and their soldiers.
There`s a term for what is going on here, for what is happening to TV news.
It`s called semantic infiltration. Semantic infiltration means getting
your enemy to use your language. ISIS is winning the semantic infiltration
game with TV news this week. If ISIS could hack into TV news computer
systems and rewrite scripts and the graphics that you see on the bottom of
the screens at CNN and the BBC and other networks, is would be delighted to
discover that the one word that they wouldn`t want to rewrite is
That`s tonight`s "Last Word."
Chris Hayes is up next.
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