The need for investigation of Muslim radicalization
By Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.)
Today, the Homeland Security Committee began hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims and the impact on national security. This is unquestionably a sensitive topic with far reaching implications. That said, the alarming upward trend in homegrown jihad-related terrorism attempts clearly shows the need for an investigation.
Radical jihadists spawned more terrorism plots since May 2009 than in the prior 8 years combined. It is clear that a movement is growing, one that we need to understand and have the community support to combat. Insight from American Muslims who have witnessed radicalization and understand the phenomenon will prove invaluable as we confront this new wave of homegrown terror.
Given the circumstance, one has to wonder why much of the media and the Democrats seem committed to spinning the hearings as broadly anti-Muslim. Are they so determined to make political points that they would sacrifice national security and the support we currently have in the community? These comments, such as when a Democrat colleague stated, “King’s intent seems clear: to cast suspicion upon all Muslim Americans and to stoke the fires of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia,” are unconscionable.
From one side of their mouth, critics acknowledge the dangers of broadly painting Muslims, and out of the other they ensure that is how security efforts are seen.
Refusing to identify a very real threat to avoid being politically incorrect is wildly irresponsible. National security should never play second fiddle to political correctness. Furthermore, spinning the efforts to protect our nation as bigotry or a witch hunt is deplorable. In any situation such as this, it is important to have a measured, steady hand to avoid misconceptions of the goal and avert negative consequences.
In the last two years, 126 people have been charged with terror-related crimes – 50 of which were United States citizens. Overwhelmingly, the accused were Islamist extremists or otherwise jihadist radicals. When asked about the nature of terror within our borders, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano rattled off several other subsets of radicals – such as Anti-Tax groups – to duck the issue. It is important to point out that none of the 126 arrested were Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, Environmental Extremists, Militia Members, or members of Anti-Tax Groups.
A wide majority of Muslims do not subscribe to extreme jihadist thought. They love America as any other citizen does, and have no terroristic intent. Every single member on the Homeland Security Committee fully understands this. In fact, as Chairman King has stated, it is largely through the help of patriotic American Muslims that we should address this issue. His concern, and the concern of the Homeland Security Committee, has never been Muslims as a whole group, but only the extreme violent subset, those who attempt to recruit and radicalize them, and groups that facilitate that behavior.
Attorney General Eric Holder described the threat in no uncertain terms in an interview last year, saying: "It is one of the things that keeps me up at night. You didn't worry about this even two years ago -- about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And -- that is of – of great concern." He continued, "the threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens -- raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born.”
He goes on in the same interview to describe how Anwar Al Awlaki is actively masterminding attacks from overseas, and using al Qaeda–centric websites to spread the message of violent jihad and attacks against the United States.
The intelligence we have strongly indicates a growing effort to recruit and radicalize American Muslims and create homegrown terror. The opposition has shown its hand. We now have before us an opportunity to confront the threat directly and start a conversation with the American Muslim population about al Qaeda inspired radicalization. I hope short sightedness and political correctness do not destroy that opportunity.
Rep. Paul Broun is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.