Democracy Now! - November 17, 2015

France and Russia have staged a series of new airstrikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Russia announced earlier today it would intensify strikes in Syria after the Russian intelligence service said it had found conclusive proof that a bomb had brought down the Metrojet airliner in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people on board last month. The United States has also vowed to intensify strikes in Syria and to step up their exchange of intelligence on potential targets with France. We speak with longtime journalist Abdel Bari Atwan about how the bombings could backfire and help grow the Islamic State.

Two days after the Paris attacks, President Obama met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for a bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Turkey on Sunday. The following day, the Pentagon revealed the U.S. State Department has approved the sale of $1.29 billion in smart bombs to Saudi Arabia for its attack on Yemen. We speak to Abdel Bari Atwan about how the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Saudi funding of jihadist movements helped the Islamic State grow.

Oxford researcher Lydia Wilson discusses interviewing members of ISIS held prisoner at a police station of Kirkuk, Iraq. "They are children of the occupation, many with missing fathers at crucial periods (through jail, death from execution, or fighting in the insurgency), filled with rage against America and their own government," Wilson wrote in a recent piece for The Nation. "They are not fueled by the idea of an Islamic caliphate without borders; rather, ISIS is the first group since the crushed Al Qaeda to offer these humiliated and enraged young men a way to defend their dignity, family, and tribe."

On Sunday more than 1,000 people overflowed a ballroom at California State University, Long Beach to honor Nohemí González, the 23-year-old student who was shot dead on Friday during the Paris attacks. González was a senior at the school. She was studying for a semester at Strate College of Design in suburban Paris. On Friday she was eating at a restaurant fired upon by gunmen. Nohemí González has been described as a proud first-generation Mexican American. We speak with her cousin, Miriam Padilla. "We are angry that my cousin is dead, but we are also angry that there are hundreds of children and families that are dying in Syria, in Iraq and in other parts of the world," Padilla says.

In the wake of Friday’s attacks in Paris, governors of at least 27 U.S. states have said they will not accept Syrian refugees. A Syrian passport which appears to be fake was found near the body of one of the Paris attackers, whose fingerprints matched someone who passed through Greece and the Balkans. But all the attackers identified so far are European nationals. The Obama administration has said it still plans to accept Syrian refugees, noting they are intensely vetted. We get reaction from Roula Allouch, national board chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

There are growing reports of Islamophobic attacks since Friday’s massacre in Paris. Just hours after the Paris assault, a caller left a voicemail laced with racial slurs for the Islamic Society of Pinellas County in St. Petersburg, Florida. The caller left his full name and threatened to "firebomb you, shoot whoever’s there on sight in the head." Meanwhile in Pflugerville, Texas, residents found a torn Qur’an covered in feces left in front of the local mosque. In Canada, a mosque in Peterborough, Ontario, was set on fire in what authorities have called a hate crime. We discuss the attacks with Roula Allouch, national board chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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