King, Lieberman Open Joint House-Senate Hearing on Homegrown Terror Threat to Military Communities at 9:30 a.m.

Dec 7, 2011 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings

Washington, D.C. – This morning, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convene the hearing entitled “Homegrown Terrorism:  The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States.”  The 9:30 a.m. hearing will air live on C-SPAN 3 and be webcast at www.homeland.house.gov  and at www.hsgac.senate.gov.

The prepared opening statement of Chairman King follows: 

“Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are holding a joint investigative hearing on the homegrown terrorist threat within the military itself and to military communities inside the United States.  Let me start by thanking Chairman Lieberman, Ranking Member Collins, and their Committee for their leadership in the Senate on addressing the threats posed by Islamist radicalization, which they began examining five years ago. I appreciate Chairman Lieberman and Ranking Member Collins working with our House Committee on today’s hearing, which is the first joint House-Senate homeland security hearing held since the establishment of our House committee in 2005.

I also want to thank our distinguished witnesses for appearing today to discuss this growing security issue including Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton, and Chief Daris Long, a retired Marine Corps veteran and the father of Army Private William Long, who was killed in a terrorist attack on his recruiting station in Little Rock.

This is the fourth hearing in a series the House Committee has held this year on the serious threat of violent Islamist radicalization within the United States. Our Committee has investigated the problem of radicalization within the Muslim-American community generally, sounded the alarm over radicalization in U.S. prisons, and probed the recruiting and radicalization carried out inside the U.S. by the Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab group in Somalia.

This joint investigative hearing will seriously examine the emerging and growing danger to our men and women serving in uniform, as reflected by the facts that are known to us.

We had an obligation to act in response to alarming new developments concerning a growing security threat from radicalization both internally within the military, as well as externally toward military personnel and their families residing in the United States. Our troops volunteer to go into harm’s way overseas to protect all of us – they should not be in harm’s way here at home, and yet they are.

The dominant threat is from active duty military within the armed forces.  This threat is persistent and enduring. 

More than five Islamist terror plots have been disrupted involving U.S. military insiders in the past decade and 11 cases involved veterans or those who attempted to join law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The total number of radicalized troops is more than publicly realized or acknowledged.

Since the 9/11 attacks, at least 33 public cases have been prosecuted or probed in which homegrown terrorists living and operating in the United States – and sometimes inside the military itself – posed a grave threat, plotted to carry out attacks or perpetrated violence aimed at America’s Armed Forces in the homeland or deployed to overseas warzones. Twenty-three of these military-targeted plots, or 70% of the total, have unfolded since mid-2009 as part of the broader surge of homegrown Islamist terrorism.

Two successful attacks against the military were perpetrated by radicalized soldiers assigned to U.S.-based Army units at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait in 2003 and at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009;

At least 16 external terror plots by jihadis inside the U.S. who were aiming for military personnel stationed in the homeland have been disrupted or investigated;

At least nine other external plots were thwarted involving U.S. Persons in the homeland who traveled or planned trips overseas to kill G.I.s in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere;

A growing number of terrorist threats are directed at families of military personnel. Particularly of concern is the safety of relatives whose loved ones are in units deployed on secret counterterror operations.

As recent history illustrates, the only successful attacks on the homeland resulting in deaths since September 11 have been against the military – at Fort Hood, where 13 were murdered in an active-shooter attack allegedly by Army Major Nidal Hasan, and at a Little Rock recruiting center, where Army Private William Long was fatally shot point-blank by radicalized homegrown Islamist Carlos Bledsoe.

In summary, today’s hearing will address the twofold threat from within the military and against the military. 

The Fort Hood attack was not an anomaly. It was part of Al Qaeda’s two-decade success at infiltrating the U.S. military for terrorism — an effort that is increasing in scope and threat. 

Military communities in the U.S. have recently become the most sought-after targets of violent Islamist extremists seeking to kill Americans in their homeland. We cannot stand idly by while our heroes in uniform are struck down in the place they feel safest. The homegrown terrorist threat to military communities inside the United States is of critical significance and one which we simply cannot afford to neglect.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on these matters.”

 

The prepared opening statement of Chairman Lieberman follows: 

“Good morning.  I too want to welcome everyone to this historic, first ever joint hearing between the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees. My thanks to Chairman King for proposing this hearing. There is no subject that should unite us more across partisan or ideological lines than the threat Islamist extremists pose to our homeland and our people.

 Today we focus on the threat of violent Islamist extremism to members of the military at home.  The men and women who have sworn to defend our democracy expect a respite from wartime conditions when they are home from battle. But the record shows that that the United States military has become a direct target of violent Islamist extremism here in the U.S., and that means soldiers and perhaps their families are potentially vulnerable at work and at rest, in a military setting or a civilian one, on a base or off a base, at a recruiting station or a military hospital.

The only Americans who have lost their lives in terrorist attacks in our homeland since 9/11 have been killed at U.S. military facilities.

Private William Long – who was killed at a Little Rock recruiting station June 4, 2009, and whose father will testify today – was the first. The other 13 were murdered on November 5, 2009, during the Fort Hood attack. In addition, two soldiers were killed at camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait in 2003 by a fellow service member, and about 50 were wounded at Fort Hood and in Kuwait.

It will probably surprise most people to learn that, since 2001, law enforcement has thwarted and prosecuted more than 30 plots or attacks against military targets. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), that represents more than half of the 54 homegrown jihadist plots and attacks that occurred between 9/11 and December 4, 2011.

The stark reality, therefore, is that the American service member is increasingly in the terrorists’ scope and not just overseas in a traditional war setting. I look forward to asking our Defense Department witnesses - Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs; Jim Stuteville, a senior Army advisor on counterintelligence operations; and Lieutenant Colonel Reid Sawyer, Director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point - if they agree with this characterization of the threat, what they are doing to address it, and what the future of military security looks like.

Our government’s counterterrorism capabilities will continue to be the best means of uncovering plots against military installations and personnel and saving lives. And this means the Department of Defense and the FBI – which has primary responsibility for domestic extremism and terrorism -- must open their lines of communication to an unprecedented degree.

Law enforcement agencies in communities across the country have been and must also continue to reach out to Muslim American communities to enable them to help our government meet this threat that comes from a small but deadly number of individuals who are radicalizing or have already radicalized to violent Islamist extremism.

Finally, our government and especially the Defense Department - must recognize who the enemy is – not a vague notion of violent extremism, but violent Islamist extremism specifically.

One of the unfortunate lessons of the past decade is that violent Islamist extremism will undoubtedly threaten us for years to come both at home and abroad, and its targets will be both civilians and military personnel. We have weakened our enemies but they are not vanquished. Protecting Americans, in general, and our service members in particular, requires continued preventive, offensive, and defensive action.”

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