King: 40 Americans join terror group

Jul 27, 2011 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings

Politico –  by Reid J. Epstein

More than 40 Americans have been recruited to join the Islamic terror network in Somalia, according to Rep. Peter King.

King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is to make the statement during his opening statement at Wednesday’s third committee hearing to investigate Muslim radicalization in the United States.

“Our investigation into this threat has led to alarming findings: Notably, that al-Shabaab has successfully recruited and radicalized more than 40 Muslim-Americans and 20 Canadians, who have joined the terror group inside Somalia,” King is to say, according to prepared remarks released by his office. “Of those, at least 15 Americans and three Canadians are believed to have been killed fighting with al-Shabaab, the Committee has learned. Not al-Qaeda, nor any of its other affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim-Americans and Westerners to jihad.”

King, who has been Congress’s most visible voice for investigating home-grown Islamic threats since the Sept. 11 attacks, said there has been an increase of Americans joining al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked group operating in the largely lawless nation. King said the group is both recruiting and targeting Americans.

“Dozens of experts the Committee interviewed agreed this threat is real, and that al-Shabaab leaders’ public calls for attacks against America — including in retaliation for killing bin Laden — must be taken seriously,” King is to say. “With a large group of Muslim-Americans willing to die as “martyrs,” and a strong operational partnership with al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and in Yemen, al-Shabaab now has more capability than ever to strike the U.S. homeland.”

After much consternation surrounded King’s decision to hold the hearings, the first round in March was largely seen as an unimpressive event, without the fireworks expected from witnesses or congressional questioners. On the eve of the second hearing in June, King defended them as necessary to raise awareness.

“I thought the first hearing was very successful in alerting America to the threat we face from domestic radicalization of Muslim Americans,” he said then.