ISIS

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said President Trump should immediately rethink his decision over the weekend to pull American forces out of northern Syria. The White House announced the shift in policy Sunday, saying that “United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.” Going forward, the statement read, Turkey will move ahead with “long-planned” operations in the region.

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A Syrian refugee who came to the U.S. three years ago plotted to bomb a church this spring to inspire followers of the Islamic State of Iraq, federal authorities said in announcing the man's arrest Wednesday. 

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Alex Popichak, a student at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, was wrapping up a radio journalism workshop in Manchester, England when Monday's bombing at an Ariana Grande concert occurred.

Popichak and seven fellow journalism students were staying at hotel 2 miles from the concert venue and no one in their group was injured.

He spoke to 90.5 WESA's Larkin Page-Jacobs about his experience in the aftermath of the bombing.

Life changed as Sadiik Yusuf knew it about two years ago, when the FBI appeared at his front door in Minneapolis to tell him his son Abdullahi had been stopped at the airport, suspected of trying to board a flight that would take him to Syria to fight with ISIS.

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A Philadelphia woman has pleaded guilty to plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

Keonna Thomas, 32, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Defense attorney Kathleen Gaughan said her client has accepted responsibility and "looks forward to putting this behind her and being a mother to her two young children."

Thomas, who was arrested in April at a public housing development in north Philadelphia, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said Monday it's time to "chart a new course" in the battle against "radical Islamic terrorism," though much of what he proposed is similar to the course already set by President Obama.

The leader of the Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in late July, according to NPR's Tom Bowman, citing American military officials.

As Tom reports,

"Officials say Khan was killed by a drone strike in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, where most Islamic State fighters are located. There are several thousand ISIS fighters in the province, officials say, and the group has been increasing its attacks.

Eighteen months after British schoolgirl Kadiza Sultana ran away from home to join the Islamic State militant group, her family lawyer says they've received word she has died in Syria.

Hillary Clinton has chosen Tim Kaine to be her vice presidential running mate. The Virginia senator has been an elected official — including mayor, governor and senator — for over 20 years and was once the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was also on President Obama's shortlist of running mates in 2008.

Keith Srakocic / AP Images

Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey has returned from a trip to the Middle East to explore, research and investigate the issue of terrorism financing. We'll ask him if his visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey altered his approach to curtailing ISIS and what he would like to see President Obama and Congress do.

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Following the Thursday arrest of a 19-year-old Harrisburg man accused of aiding the terrorist group ISIS, U.S. Senator Bob Casey said Congress has a lot of work to do in combating what is referred to as homegrown extremism.

Casey was briefed Thursday on the months of work that went into the arrest of Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz. Casey said knowing the methods terrorists or potential terrorists use is imperative in preventing future violence.

Challenges Facing American Muslims

Dec 8, 2015
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Leading Republican candidate Donald Trump made headlines again when he called for a complete ban of Muslims entering the United States in light of recent acts of terror associated with ISIS on the home front.  Critics have called this proposal a “ratcheting up of the rhetoric aimed at American fears about members of the Islamic faith.”

“This would be hilarious if it was not so sickening and dangerous to the fabric of American society,” says Pittsburgh Muslim leader Safdar Khwaja. Khwaja recently wrote an article for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called “They are not Islamic. They are not a state. They are Dae’sh,” in which he highlighted the often misunderstood differences between traditional Islam and the so-called Islamic State.

Can A Combined Global Effort Stop ISIS?

Nov 23, 2015
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In the wake of the attack on Paris that left 130 dead, many are concerned that ISIS has shifted its focus toward global aggression rather than the insurgency in Iraq and Syria.  University of Pittsburgh associate professor and terrorism expert Michael Kenney has analyzed the situation in the Middle East and addressed the potential effectiveness of a global coalition fighting ISIS.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

As Syria continues to be shattered by its civil war, the U.S. and Russia are at odds about the best strategy to stabilize the nation and neutralize ISIS. While The Islamic State and other extremist organizations add to the complexity of the conflict, there are many questions to be answered. What are Moscow's goals in Syria? Should the U.S. play a more active role? We'll put those question to Dr. Colin P. Clarke, Associate Political Scientist for the RAND Corporation.

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In commemoration of World Autism Awareness Day, Lu Randall, Executive Director at Autism Connection of PA and April Artz,Coordinator for the EmployAble program at the Squirrel Hill Career Development Center, are working to place adults with mental health issues in STEM jobs. The EmployAble program, which provides supportive services along with their job placements, acquired the funds to include services for adults on the autism spectrum in 2014.

Asked about the challenges faced by job seekers on the autism spectrum, Artz explains:

"When people go to apply for a job, there's still a lot of concern on their end about disclosing or talking about it to their employer. And I think in some ways that is justified because there is still a lot of misunderstanding despite the fact [that] this is very prevalent, and this is sort of being a human, we still have a lot of stigma and anxiety around this."

Explaining her outlook on helping the people she works with to seek employment, Randall says: 

"I see my role, in particular, as providing kind of a cross-cultural explanation of a group that's really not well understood. And it's very similar, when we listen to the issues, to any other minority groups in the past or currently who have a hard time being taken seriously, being respected, not having stereotypes put out there that are untrue."

Also in the program, Pitt professor Michael Kenney talks about why some Americans become interested in joining ISIS, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme gives suggestions on where to go for some extra March Madness.

 

When Pennsylvania’s junior senator sits at his desk for the State of the Union Address tonight, he will have a specific list of items he would like President Obama to address.

The second-term senator would like to see the president focus on the economy and national security, not broadband speeds and net neutrality as he has already previewed in stops around the country this month.

“The fact is, the average working family in Pennsylvania is not getting ahead,” he said. “That’s the reality. We need a stronger economy and we change that reality.”