Hannah Allam

Hannah Allam is a Washington-based national security correspondent for NPR, focusing on homegrown extremism. Before joining NPR, she was a national correspondent at BuzzFeed News, covering U.S. Muslims and other issues of race, religion and culture. Allam previously reported for McClatchy, spending a decade overseas as bureau chief in Baghdad during the Iraq war and in Cairo during the Arab Spring rebellions. She moved to Washington in 2012 to cover foreign policy, then in 2015 began a yearlong series documenting rising hostility toward Islam in America. Her coverage of Islam in the United States won three national religion reporting awards in 2018 and 2019. Allam was part of McClatchy teams that won an Overseas Press Club award for exposing death squads in Iraq and a Polk Award for reporting on the Syrian conflict. She was a 2009 Nieman fellow at Harvard and currently serves on the board of the International Women's Media Foundation.

On a recent morning, Matt Marshall sat at a back table in Jim Bob's Chuck Wagon, a café in an old timber town about a half-hour outside of Seattle.

It was the eve of a political rally that Marshall had spent months planning. He scribbled last-minute notes in a homemade booklet, a Christmas present from his daughter. On the front, in black marker, she had drawn the logo of the Washington Three Percent, the name of her dad's militia.

Although, that's not the word he uses.

"We're absolutely not a paramilitary," he said. "We're a nonprofit corporation."

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Now the story about the strange journey of a word that's popular in far-right corners of the internet. The word? Boogaloo. NPR's Hannah Allam tells us more.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOO-GA-LOO")

TOM AND JERRIO: (Singing) Hey, hey, boogaloo.

The torch-wielding racists who marched on Charlottesville, Va., two years ago showed the ugly new face of the far right. Their deadly rally shocked the nation into paying attention to how racial hatred could turn into organized violence.

But if 2017 was the wake-up call, 2019 was the year the call was answered.

It was a busy fall morning at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. Myrieme Churchill found a clearing in the arrivals hall and scanned the crowd.

One by one, her people showed up: a black father and daughter from Tennessee. A white couple from Georgia. A Somali immigrant. Two South Asians — one from Canada, one from Britain. Churchill greeted them in a blend of languages: Salaam! Bonjour! Welcome to D.C.!

When 24-year-old Abdirizak Warsame came home from prison over the summer, his family welcomed him with his favorite foods and long talks with the siblings he hadn't seen in three years. They were reunited, grateful for a fresh start.

Outside of their house in Minneapolis, however, Abdirizak's homecoming was a different story.

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A 24-year-old soldier in Kansas who allegedly planned to fight with a violent far-right group in Ukraine was charged Monday with distributing bomb-making information over social media, according to the Justice Department.

Charlie Winter, a London-based terrorism researcher, was dining with friends one recent evening when the conversation turned to whether it is ethical to eat meat.

Someone brought up slaughterhouse conditions, Winter said, and he instantly grew uneasy. He stayed for a while longer, squirming, and then finally left the room. That word — "slaughterhouse" — had conjured images of one of the most gruesome ISIS videos he'd come across. The militants had filmed a mass execution in a slaughterhouse, casting their prisoners as the animals.

Liz Sines happened to be near campus that night, so she was among the first to see the hundreds of young men who stormed the University of Virginia lawn. They marched in the darkness, tiki torches illuminating their faces as they chanted ugly slurs: "Jews will not replace us!"

It was late August in Charlottesville, Va., two years ago this month, with temperatures pushing into the high 80s. But what then-Mayor Mike Signer remembers most vividly about those days is the cold.

He'd walk into rooms and instantly feel a chill, an iciness, from townsfolk who had lost faith in their leadership. Sometimes people cried, sometimes they screamed.

"You had a whole city that basically needed therapy," Signer said.

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In her 30 years as a U.S. diplomat, Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley served as ambassador to Malta, monitored elections in Gaza, led a diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia, expanded counterterrorism partnerships and oversaw a mass evacuation of Americans from a war zone.

But no matter how many postings she racked up, Abercrombie-Winstanley said, she often saw shock spread across the faces of men when she walked into rooms for high-level meetings.

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Women are making some progress in a field where progress has been slow - national security, an area long dominated by men. Here's NPR's Hannah Allam.

In the back of a nondescript building at the University of Maryland, a team of researchers combs through the files of homegrown extremists who have plotted attacks in the name of far-right causes.

In each case, researchers are hunting for the motivation, the ideology, that inspired the violence. That means digging into the many elements that make up the far right, as researcher Michael Jensen explained on a recent afternoon.

Lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee questioned senior FBI and Homeland Security officials this week about their response to white supremacist violence.

This was the latest in a series of hearings, led by Democrats, to gauge the Trump administration's commitment to fighting a threat that federal agencies deem the most lethal and active form of domestic extremism.

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For the picturesque college town of Durham in southeastern New Hampshire, a reckoning came in 2017.

That was the year a complaint about the cultural appropriation of Cinco de Mayo spiraled into weeks of racial unrest, a boiling over of tensions that had simmered for years at the University of New Hampshire. Students who called out racist incidents faced a backlash of online bullying, swastikas and slurs, and the vandalism of sculptures that symbolized their cause.

As Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was wrapping up her remarks to the crowd at a Ramadan gathering on Capitol Hill late Monday, she spotted a familiar face in the front row.

It was Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who was famously mocked by then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 race. Omar told the audience she remembered how Trump had belittled Khan's wife by saying he wasn't sure if Muslim women were allowed to speak.

For more than a decade, a former U.S. diplomat targeted an Arab American advocacy group with hundreds of menacing emails, often declaring: "The only good Arab is a dead Arab."

Messages from Patrick Syring typically contained racist descriptions of Arabs and accused the staff of the Arab American Institute — and specifically its president, James Zogby — of orchestrating terrorist attacks around the world. The emails terrified staff members, who drew up a security plan in case Syring ever showed up at their offices.