“We are not safe and we will not be safe for many years,” LAPD Deputy Chief Mark Leap said at the forum sponsored by the university’s School of Public Affairs. “There are many, many more people who consider themselves jihadists now. And criminal enterprises are being used to support terrorist activities.” Officials said the links between organized crime and terrorism are particularly troubling in light of a message posted on an al-Qaida Web site saying the group wants to kill 4 million Americans in retribution for the number of Muslims killed by the U.S. and its allies in recent years. “Al-Qaida recently announced on their Web site that they have two main targets – Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia,” said Michael Intriligator, a terrorism expert and UCLA professor who moderated the forum. “I don’t know why they picked Melbourne, but Los Angeles was specifically mentioned as a target for their next terrorist attack.” Intriligator said Los Angeles has a number of potential targets, including LAX, its downtown skyscrapers and the nation’s largest port complex. He is especially concerned about the potential for an attack using a black-market nuclear device. “I think we are not at all prepared for this and we are living in what psychologists call a state of denial,” Intriligator said. “It’s such a horrendous thing to think about. We think it happened way back in 2001 and that it can’t happen again.” Gang involvement Sheriff’s Department Lt. John Sullivan, who helped found the county’s Terrorism Early Warning Group that has since been emulated by 26 cities nationwide, said organized crime groups in Los Angeles County are supporting international terrorists. “Al-Qaida has stated their intent to obtain nuclear weapons,” he said. “Whether they can do so is unknown. They have often in the past made good on their threats. So it’s reasonable to believe that it’s viable. “As far as attacking Los Angeles, they have attempted to attack Los Angeles in the past. It’s reasonable to believe they will again.” Sullivan also said officials are concerned about the notorious MS-13 street gang and its involvement in human smuggling and other activities on behalf of organized crime syndicates. “MS-13 has a lot of the characteristics that could facilitate terrorist activities,” Sullivan said. Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corp., said officials are especially concerned about growing organized criminal activity and lawlessness in parts of Mexico and South America, the erosion of government authority and whether terrorist groups can exploit the situation to attack the U.S. “When we have criminal organizations becoming more powerful than the government then we will end up with increasing militarization along the southern border,” Jenkins said. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Jenkins said, the U.S. government has made undeniable progress in degrading the capabilities of al-Qaida, destroying its training camps, disrupting its flow of funding and thwarting a number of terrorist plots around the globe. “But we’ve had failures as well,” Jenkins said. “What we have not been able to do is dent their determination one bit. We have not been able to stop them from turning angry young men around the world into self-destructing terrorists.” email@example.com (213) 974-8985 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Are we safer today from terrorists than we were on 9-11? No, according to a panel of experts at a forum Monday at University of California, Los Angeles. America is just as vulnerable to attack as it was on 9-11, with street gangs funding terrorist groups and also draining resources from law enforcement agencies working to head off future attacks. The experts said the war on terrorism has been replaced by the war on gangs – a huge concern in Los Angeles, which has an estimated 40,000 gang members and is an attractive target for terrorists.
It was early February 2015 when Mike Gundy boarded a private Oklahoma State airplane to make the nearly 900-mile trip to see Chris Carson. The highly-recruited junior college running back had previously committed to in-state school Georgia but word had gotten out the Carson may be reconsidering his decision.Mike Gundy brought a special guest with him.When Gundy sans mullet walked into Carson’s house he carried with him Barry Sanders’ 1988 Heisman trophy. The message was simple: We’ve got our star quarterback for the future. We’ve got stud receivers. You’re the missing piece.The Cowboys’ running game was in dire straits coming off an seven-win 2014 season that showcased one of Oklahoma State’s worse offenses in years. Carson was also looking at an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream.Carson talked about one reason he chose the Cowboys.“One of my favorite running backs was Kendall Hunter,” Carson said. “So I knew OSU put some people in the NFL, but I didn’t really think it was more than Georgia at the time. But after they broke it down to me, I see that they actually put out more than Georgia. That was a big factor in my decision.”Carson officially de-committed from Georgia on February 2 and committed to play in Stillwater that same day.Since then, Carson has had his ups and downs. He’s struggled with minor injuries and ineffective play. He’s seen his offensive line hit its own learning curve.But now, after the better part of two seasons, Carson and Oklahoma State’s running game have finally hit their stride.During Saturday’s win in Fort Worth, Carson had a career-best 146 yards and a touchdown as part of the best two-headed rushing exhibition OSU has put on in a couple of years.Since coming back from a hand injury sustained early this season, Carson has been on a tear, averaging 7.7 yards a carry and scoring six touchdowns in five games.Mike Gundy is proud of his senior running back.“The attitude he brings to the game, in the running game – he’s a completely different person than he was last year, and I told the team that,” said Gundy. “He’s going to be in an NFL camp now, in my opinion.”Now that leaping ability and imposing stature no longer seems contrived. His physical skills have become a revelation. With the help of an improved offensive line and the emergence of a star true freshman in Justice Hill, Carson is actually able to use his skill set.On senior night, Chris Carson put his stamp on Cowboy football history by not scoring a touchdown.Late in the game, after completely destroying a Texas Tech defender to get the first down, Carson took one step over his helpless victim and took a knee on the Red Raiders’ 4-yard line, effectively sealing the win while staring down what would have been a career-high third rushing touchdown that night.Mike Gundy was asked to describe who Chris Carson is now.“He’s a pretty good college running back now. He’s been a really good weapon for our team. I cautioned our team about listening to the outside after the second and third game of the year. I cautioned them again about listening to the outside when people are going to start telling them how good they are.”“But I felt comfortable in telling our team and Chris Carson today that he’s the most improved player on our team. He’s grown up a lot as a young man because it’s not easy to look past people saying, ‘What happened to you?’“He’s running like the guy we recruited now.”Chris Carson never won a Heisman. He’s not an All-American and probably won’t hear his name from the podium next spring during the NFL Draft. Maybe it hasn’t all gone exactly as he’d planned.But with his college career nearly over, Carson has (at least) two more chances to build on his legacy at Oklahoma State and help the Cowboys win a conference championship. And that’s something very few of those running backs that preceded him, the ones Mike Gundy told him about and persuaded him with, can say.Not Barry Sanders. Not Thurman Thomas. Not Kendall Hunter. Not Keith Toston. All played in the NFL, yes, but none hoisted a trophy at the end of the year with OU in their wake. In that sense, Chris Carson still has a chance to make history.If you’re looking for the comments section, it has moved to our forum, The Chamber. You can go there to comment and holler about these articles, specifically in these threads. You can register for a free account right here and will need one to comment.If you’re wondering why we decided to do this, we wrote about that here. Thank you and cheers!