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Preventing terrorism in in Mid-Missouri

Authorities have yet to determine a motive for 24-year-old Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez to shoot up a military recruiting center last week. Experts in Mid-Missouri say he may have been influenced by radical groups overseas making it an act of international terrorism.

Several Missouri senators are asking Governor Jay Nixon to allow military personnel to carry loaded weapons in these types of centers.

Paul Fennewald, former Missouri Homeland Security Coordinator, said guns may not be the best resolution.

“I think if we only focus on reaction, we’re going to fail miserably,” he said. “We need to focus on prevention of radicalization. We need to understand the causing factors, the warning signs, and empower people and give them information of how to recognize it.”

Fennewald said young people in their late teens are early 20s are easily influenced by radical groups’ messages that are shared over the Internet. A tactic that terrorist groups like ISIS have embraced.

“This is not a new phenomena,” he said. “It’s no ones fault that we don’t have our hands around this and or aren’t getting ahead of this quicker than what we are. This is a whole new concept and we’re seeing the amount of people that are picking up arms in the name of their belief system.”

Paul Wallace, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Missouri, said acts of terrorism could happen anywhere, but it’s unlikely in cities like Columbia with a strong community relationship.

“We could expect something perhaps like Chattanooga or, in terms of domestic terrorism, like South Carolina, but the chances of that are less likely if work together and cooperate together in intelligence and being part of a community.”

Wallace said Columbia is a diverse city of cultures that work well together and respect each other.

“We have a marvelous community here,” he said. “We have elements from all over the world who live here. And they’re going to be welcomed and they participate and they’re a benefit to our community.”

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