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After San Bernardino, how can law enforcement prevent self-radicalization?

A main concern following the San Bernardino mass shooting is how those in the U.S. may become radicalized -- and the challenge that poses to law enforcement trying to track those individuals. David Schanzer, Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University joins Hari Sreenivasan.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:

    Among the concerns following the mass shooting in San Bernardino is how those living in the United States might become radicalized, and the challenges law enforcement faces in trying to track such individuals and prevent them from acting violently.

    For some insight, I'm joined by David Schanzer, who is the director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University.

    So, David, one of the things that people have been struggling with is that there isn't any one single profile of who is going to do something like this.

  • DAVID SCHANZER, TRIANGLE CENTER ON TERRORISM AND HOMELAND SECURITY AT DUKE UNIVERSITY:

    No, there is not. You know, when we look at this group of perpetrators and we can look backwards, we do realize that they share some common traits. They are often disassociated with family members and friends, are loners, not deeply embedded in their community. Many of them have exhibited some forms of depression or forms of mental illness. A lot of them have had familiarity or experience with firearms.

    But then — so those behaviors are so generalizable and they apply to so many millions and millions of people in the United States, if you're trying to look forward and be able to point out and say, "Well, you, that's somebody we should really pay attention to," it's just very, very difficult, if not impossible

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    How does an intelligence agency prevent something like this? It's almost like trying to prevent a school shooting or shooting up a Planned Parenthood clinic.

  • DAVID SCHANZER:

    Well, it really is. So, to my mind the best way to try to deal with these things is really to have deep connections between our law enforcement agencies and communities, because it's going to be friends, relatives, coworkers that might pick up on signals of individuals that they have changed, they may say things that suggest that they might want to engage in violence. So, having those kinds of relationships of trust and connectivity in communities is what can possibly give the police some sort of early warning that an individual is headed down a road to towards violence.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Well, in this day and age, when you start to talk about connections and communities, I automatically think of social media. And it seems those are now open-source indicators of what someone's thinking. They're opting into sharing this with people.

  • DAVID SCHANZER:

    Well, absolutely. Not all these individuals are well-trained, hardened criminal terrorist. A lot of them are, you know, confused individuals, and they make mistakes. They don't know how to conceal their intentions.

    And, indeed, they want to brag to others, to talk about, and so, they'll leave clues on social media. They'll say things and I think that's a very fruitful way for law enforcement to try to deal with this by looking at open-source materials, but also because they can't be everywhere on the Internet, again, friends, colleagues, people that are on the Internet and see these things, you know, the types of statements that suggest somebody is really interested in violence should bring it to the attention of authorities

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. David Schanzer of Duke University joining us from California today — thanks so much.

  • DAVID SCHANZER:

    Well, happy to be with you.

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