Dina Temple-Raston | St. Louis Public Radio

Dina Temple-Raston

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As candidates hit the campaign trail, NPR looks at four major issues the next president will face from Day 1 in office.

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And al-Qaida is at the center of a pretty stunning announcement from the White House this morning. President Obama said two hostages of al-Qaida, including an American, were killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation.

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Two women who were roommates in Brooklyn, N.Y., have been arrested in a homegrown terrorism plot. Separately, a man thought to be one of the highest-ranking Americans in al-Qaeda will face charges in the U.S.

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An Illinois National Guardsman and his cousin were arrested for allegedly conspiring to provide support to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. One of the men wanted to go to Syria to martyr himself, and the other planned to carry out an attack on a nearby military base in northern Illinois.

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Among the sweeping changes France is proposing in the aftermath of this month's terrorist attacks in Paris are new measures to fight Islamic radicalization in its prisons. It is an enormous problem brought into starker relief because two of the suspects in the attacks earlier this month were products of the French penal system.

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In the fight against terrorist organizations, one weapon has been effective in the past: cutting off their funding.

Terrorist groups tend to get their money from outside donors or charities. But the Islamic State, the group that now controls huge areas of Syria and Iraq, doesn't get its money that way. So the methods the U.S. Treasury has used to fight terrorist groups in the past won't work as well.

This week a young man in Texas became the first American to plead guilty to terrorism charges related to the recent fighting in Iraq.

Michael Wolfe, 23, was arrested just before he boarded a plane. He was on his way to join ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Sunni extremist group that has been storming its way across Iraq for the past two weeks.

ISIS and hundreds of other rebel groups in Syria have inspired thousands of young men around the world to leave their homes and join the fight.

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You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. >>CORNISH: It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. The Taliban scored a propaganda coup when it's video of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release went viral. The video was so popular that within hours the Taliban website crashed. Jihadi groups from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria, have developed sophisticated media campaigns to get their messages out and attract new followers. And as NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports, social media is playing a bigger and bigger role.

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