National Security Network

Takeaways from the King Hearings

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Report 10 March 2011

Terrorism & National Security Terrorism & National Security homeland security King Hearings Muslim Americans Muslim Hearings Peter King Radicalization terrorism

3/10/11

Today's House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee hearings on "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and the Community's Response" were a flop.  "The hearings produced political theater for Chairman King, but failed to produce new substance in policy or oversight to make our nation safer," said National Security Network's Executive Director Heather Hurlburt.  "Indeed, what the witnesses had to say reinforced the strength of partnership between American Muslims and law enforcement, and underlined that an effective approach to counterterrorism does not isolate a community based on its faith."

Rejection of King's Approach

Los Angeles County Sherriff Lee Baca: "I would caution that to comment only on the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community may be viewed as singling out a particular section of our nation. This makes a false assumption that any particular religion or group is more prone to radicalization than others... Clearly, we should be examining radicalization as an issue that affects all groups regardless of religion."

Strong rejection of an approach that focuses on isolating Muslims. In addition to a number of terrorism experts who have spoken out forcefully about the potential damage that this hearing has on our approach to homeland security, there have been many sectors of society that have forcefully rejected an approach that singles out only Muslims. For more explanation from counterterrorism experts, veterans, interfaith leaders and local leaders click here.

Ineffective Approach to Homeland Security

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN): "To effectively detect and manage extremists, police need to have the trust and understanding of the Muslim communities who live within and outside the United States...  Simply, police need public participation."

Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS): "I cannot help but wonder whether this hearing, focused on the Muslim American community, will be used to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers."

LA County Sherriff Baca: "This plays directly into terrorist propaganda that the West's war on terror is actually a war on Islam."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said that: "This hearing today is playing into Al Qaeda right now around the world! It is diminishing soldiers on the front line that are Muslim!"

Experts speak out about an effective approach to combating terrorism: For more explanation from law enforcement and counterterrorism experts for how King's approach harms our security, click here.

Truth About the American Muslim Community

Dr. Zudhi Jasser, Peter King's star witness: "I personally have never known a Muslim who wouldn't report somebody about to blow something up or commit an act of violence."

Rep. Ellison: "The Muslim American community across this country actively works with law enforcement officials-from dialogues with Attorney General Eric Holder to community meetings with local police officers in Minneapolis.  Recently, tips from the Muslim American community foiled two domestic terror plots including the case of the Times Square Bomber and the Northern Virginia Five.  Law enforcement officials depend upon these relationships."

Sherriff Lee Baca: "The Muslim Community in Los Angeles is an active participant in the securing of our Homeland.

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX): "Muslims are here cooperating...They are here doing what this hearing is saying they do not do. I just question, where are the uncooperative Muslims?"

Expert opinion and research confirm the valuable role of Muslim Americans: For an  explanation from  experts and research click here, here and here.

Moving Forward

There are serious questions that can be asked and there are responsible steps to take, which today's hearing did not seek to address.  While the hearing today served as a political sideshow, there are real steps that can be taken to address issues of homegrown terrorism.  For example, homeland security expert David Schanzer from Duke University responded to the hearings by offering a series of steps to address al Qaeda-inspired terrorism in the U.S. He says, "A program for preventing radicalization should include: Taking steps to cool down the rhetoric and counteracting the growing anti-Islamic sentiment in America; Increasing Islamic literacy among Muslim youth to counter the radical narrative; Enhanced community policing to build trust between Muslim American communities and law enforcement; and Target social services to reduce isolation and economic hardship in certain Muslim immigrant communities." [David Schanzer, 3/10/11]