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Rep. Walsh op-ed in The Hill: Using common sense in Muslim radicalization

By Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)
The Hill

The House Committee on Homeland Security’s Thursday hearing has a specific, pin-point focus: to examine the threat and extent of radicalization within the American Muslim community. The hearing was an attempt to identify the causes of this radicalization and, by extension, ways which we can, as a country and a people, work to prevent this radicalization from developing at all. It does not calumniate the American Muslim community, slander the Quran, encourage racial profiling, or do any of the other hysterics propagated by its critics. The hearing was clinical and focused.

Radicalization within the American Muslim community is a major threat to American national security. I wish it were not so, but that is the unfortunate reality of our situation. Al Qaeda has developed a continuing and evolving strategy to radicalize American citizens and permanent residents and recruit them to carry out attacks against American families within the United States. 

A March 2010 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies stated that “these sorts of homegrown recruits may represent the best chance for al Qaeda and other global terrorist organizations to launch a major attack in the United States.” Obama Administration officials have even acknowledged and echoed the danger of this threat. 

Attorney General Eric Holder said, “It is one of the things that keeps me up at night.” James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said, “We also see disturbing instances of self-radicalization among our citizens. Last year, the Intelligence Community helped disrupt plots and provide information that led to the arrest of homegrown violent extremists here in the United States.” 

Even Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged that “a new and changing facet of the terrorist threat comes from homegrown terrorists.” Again, I wish it were not so, but this is our reality. Homegrown terrorists and radicals within the American Muslim community are the biggest threat to our national security. And those charged with protecting our families have acknowledged its severity.

For reasons which we have not yet been able to identify, we have seen an increasing number of homegrown Islamic terrorists springing up across the country. These include US Army Major Nidal Hasan, Najibulla Zazi, and Faisal Shahzad. We do not know why they radicalized and why they decided to attack their fellow Americans, non-Muslim and Muslim alike. There has been no effort to identify the reasons for this development, despite the level and danger of the threat. 

“Because they are Muslim” is not an acceptable answer by any means, particularly when the almost two million other members of the Muslim American community have vociferously condemned the actions of these radicals. Knee- jerk answers like that are untrue, inaccurate, and prevent us from identifying the real cause. 

That is the purpose of this Homeland Security Committee hearing on Thursday: to identify why in a few remote and extreme cases Muslim American citizens and legal residents break with the other members of the American Muslim community to commit acts of terror. In fact, much of the American Muslim community supports the intent of this hearing, as they acknowledge that these terrorists are dangerous fringe elements in a religion that promotes peace and goodwill.

Homegrown terrorists are the number one threat facing American families right now, and it would be irresponsible and negligent not to try and identify the causes of their radicalization. I commend Chairman King for holding this much needed Homeland Security Committee hearing. We are at war, and pretending otherwise is harmful to our national security. 

Despite criticisms to the contrary, this hearing is not designed to single out a specific community and place on it the blame and onus of stopping this threat. When it comes to the safety of our children and families, we cannot permit political correctness to push common sense and responsible government aside. We, as a country and a people, need to work together to protect American families and our way of life. 

We need to work together to identify the causes of this radicalization and prevent that radicalization from ever developing in the first place. This hearing is not about exclusion, but inclusion. We need to work together, all of us, to protect our children and families.