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."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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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