ISIS prompts dramatic shift in Millennials’ view of US intervention

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Divers search lake for evidence in Southern California massacre.

The dramatic shift became most pronounced in the wake of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, in which gunmen and suicide bombers trained by the radical militant group known as the Islamic State killed 130 people, according to surveys of Millennials ages 18-29 conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP). A week-old investigation into the shooting rampage that left 14 people dead at a holiday party in Southern California turned on Thursday to a small lake near the scene of the massacre, where divers searched for evidence. Before the Paris attacks, IOP’s poll results showed about half of young Americans supporting US boots on the ground: 48 percent supported the concept, while 48 percent opposed it. However, only 16 percent of those surveyed said they would be inclined to serve if needed (2 percent said they already joined, 5 percent they would definitely join, and 9 percent said they would “strongly consider” joining).

The FBI also revealed investigators were looking into any connections there may have been between one of the two killers in San Bernardino last week and four men arrested in 2012 in a separate federal terrorism case brought in nearby Riverside, California. Following the events of Nov. 13th, however, when IOP asked the question again, the Institute found that 60 percent of Millennials were now in favor of sending ground troops to combat ISIS, while 40 percent were in opposition. “We have more than enough problems for ourselves,” Dinorah Rosario, a Berklee student, told The Christian Science Monitor in 2013. “I’m not saying it’s bad to step out and help another country, but we need to focus on our own problems here.” Public opinion surveys conducted around that same time also indicated mixed opinions about whether American military action in Iraq and Afghanistan had been effective: in a 2012 Chicago Council of Global Affairs survey, 70 percent of Republicans supported taking an active role in global affairs, while only 60 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Independents did. While the race or ethnicity of the poll’s respondents didn’t significantly impact the results, the level of education of those questioned did play a role in determining the answer.

Donald Trump and Ben Carson were leading among young Republicans, with 22 percent and 20 percent respectively, even though a majority of the potential GOP voters considered neither man qualified to be president, according to the survey. (The poll was conducted in late October and early November; since that time, Carson has fallen significantly in other national polls that include all age ranges.) Supporters of both Trump and Sanders have something in common: Most say that the idea of the American dream is dead for them personally, unlike the backers of other candidates. Less than half said they are following the 2016 campaign, and just 1 in 5 said they regard themselves as politically engaged or active – down 5 percentage points from a similar period four years ago.

Bowdich said investigators already have combed the surrounding park, and that the search of the lake by FBI and Sheriff’s Department divers could take days. The poll, taken about a month ago, shows 41 percent of young potential Democratic primary voters support the senator from Vermont, compared to 35 percent for Clinton. Seccombe Lake Park lies about 2.5 miles (4 km) north of the Inland Regional Center, the social services agency where 14 people were killed and 22 others injured when Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, stormed a holiday gathering of his co-workers there on Dec. 2 and opened fire with assault rifles. Farook, 28, a U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and Malik, 29, a Pakistani native he married last year in Saudi Arabia, were slain hours after their attack in a shootout with police. Along with candidate choice, the survey found that education level matters — college graduates are 16 percentage points more likely than those who never went to college to say their American dream remains intact.

The FBI said it is treating the mass shooting as an act of terrorism, citing the couple’s declaration that they were acting on behalf of the militant group Islamic State, as well as a large cache of weapons, ammunition and bomb-making materials seized in the investigation. Still, Della Volpe said Sanders will need to run up bigger numbers with young voters, if he wants to overtake Clinton. “For Sanders to have success on a national basis, he needs to be leading Clinton by a much larger number among young people than he is now,” he said. But if the crime proves to have been the work of killers driven by militant Islamic ideology, as the FBI suspects, it would mark the deadliest such attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2011. The latest slayings and disclosures about the killers’ backgrounds have put law U.S. law enforcement on heightened alert and reverberated into the U.S. presidential campaign, intensifying debates over gun control, immigration and national security.

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, the two Republicans who have made the most overt appeals to young voters, were supported by 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Speaking to reporters at Seccombe Lake on Thursday, Bowdich disclosed the FBI was examining whether Farook had any links with the four conspirators in the Riverside case, as CNN and other media outlets have reported. A jury last year convicted two of those men, including Afghan-born ringleader Sohiel Omar Kabir, of conspiring to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda and plotting to attack U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. Forty-three percent of America’s youth said they support building a wall on the border of the U.S. and Mexico—an idea that’s been pressed especially hard by Trump—with 53 percent saying they oppose the proposal.

Asked whether the FBI knew of any ties between Farook and the four convicted Riverside conspirators, Bowdich said: “It would be irresponsible not to investigate.” He stressed the four Riverside defendants were never accused of planning attacks within the United States. U.S. government sources told Reuters on Thursday that Malik tried in vain to contact multiple Islamic militant groups in the months before she and Farook staged their attack, but her overtures were ignored.

The organizations Malik sought out likely shied away out of extreme caution in communicating with individuals unknown to them and a fear of being caught up in a law-enforcement “sting” operation, sources said. The number of organizations that Malik attempted to approach and how she sought to reach them were unclear, though the groups almost certainly included al Qaeda’s Syria-based official affiliate, the Nusrah Front, the government sources said. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and John Mulligan, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, briefed members of both houses of Congress on Thursday about the investigation in closed, classified sessions. “The current impression is that these two people were acting alone,” U.S.

But he added that he was troubled by the fact that the couple had tried to cover their tracks by destroying their cell phones and other electronic equipment. Marquez, who is related to Farook’s family by marriage – his wife and the wife of Farook’s older brother are sisters – has not been charged with any crime. (Additional reporting by Megan Cassella, Patricia Zengerle, Bill Trott and Mark Hosenbal in Washington, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Edward McAllister in Riverside, California; Writing by Steve Gorman and by Bill Trott; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumaker)

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