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Only on AP: The path to extremism in Pakistan — and the US

Doug Jensen, center, confronts U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021. AP interviewed Jensen’s brother to learn how the a 42-year-old father of three from Des Moines, Iowa, became radicalized. merica met Jensen via a video that ricocheted across the Internet that turned an officer into a hero and laid bare the mob mentality inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)


AP national security reporter Eric Tucker, Afghanistan/Pakistan news director Kathy Gannon and Kansas City, Missouri, reporter Heather Hollingsworth demonstrated the power of AP’s global footprint and expertise, digging into two case studies of radicalized individuals — one in the United States, seen prominently in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and one in Pakistan. The trio’s reporting revealed some striking commonalities between the Islamic extremism so feared by many Americans and the homegrown U.S. movements that led to the insurrection

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People pass through the landmark Khyber Pass in Jamrud, the main town of Pakistan’s Khyber district bordering Afghanistan, Oct. 11, 2021. Wahab, the youngest son of four from a wealthy Pakistani family, was rescued by his uncle from a Taliban training camp on the border earlier this year. His uncle blamed Wahab’s slide to radicalization on the neighborhood teens Wahab socialized with, as well as video games and internet sites introduced by friends. – AP Photo / Muhammad Sajjad

Reporting on their subjects through family members, Hollingsworth interviewed the brother of Jan. 6 suspect Doug Jensen three times over the course of months, while Gannon, who has covered the process of radicalization in Pakistan for years, plumbed sources she developed with the late Anja Niedringhaus more than a decade ago. She delved into the life of Wahab, a young man in Pakistan, from the vantage point of his uncle.

Tucker, meanwhile, reviewed documents, did source reporting and consulted experts to weave it all together, fragment by fragment.

The result was “Paths to Radicalization,” an Only on AP story exploring each man’s pivot into extremism. Despite obvious differences between the two men, the piece reveals common elements, not only in how people absorb extremist ideology but also in how they feed off grievances and mobilize to action. Extremist thinking is not necessarily an “other” thing; it can happen anywhere through similar means.

The story remained at the top of AP News for nearly an entire day with high reader engagement while receiving play from major news outlets,online and in print, as well as on social media. Tucker also discussed the piece in an interview with San Francisco’s KCBS.

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