House panel delves into Muslims radicalization

WASHINGTON Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:37pm EST

1 of 6. Muslim U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) becomes emotional during a hearing on 'The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response' on Capitol Hill, March 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Muslim Americans must do more to combat Islamic radicalization as al Qaeda targets them to help carry out terrorism plots, a lawmaker said on Thursday as he convened hearings critics said unfairly singled out Muslims.

Peter King, the chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee who convened hearings to examine Islamic radicalization, has accused the Muslim community of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement and charged that preaching in some U.S. mosques was leading to radicalization.

"To combat this threat, moderate leadership must emerge from the Muslim community," King said. "Today, we must be fully aware that home-grown radicalization is part of al Qaeda's strategy to continue attacking the United States."

The hearings spotlight increasing concerns about the threat of home-grown terrorism and attempts by al Qaeda to recruit from mosques in the United States to carry out attacks in this country and abroad.

Some lawmakers said King's approach unfairly demonized a single religious group, tarnishing them in their communities and instilling a sense of fear that deters them from coming forward to report suspicious activity.

Democratic Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to serve in the House, wept as he recounted how a 23-year-old Muslim paramedic died when he responded to the September 11 attacks in New York City and later was smeared because of his faith.

"Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was really with the attackers because he was a Muslim," he said.

He said the young man, Mohammed Salman Hamdani, should be recognized for giving "everything for his fellow Americans" rather than solely as a member of a religious group. Ellison tried to hide his tears behind his papers and quickly left the room after his remarks.


King, a New York congressman, denied accusations that the hearings were "radical or un-American" and said there was no comparison between the threat from al Qaeda and that from neo-Nazis, environmental extremists and "isolated madmen."

He pointed to Americans who went overseas where they joined militant groups, the attempt by a Saudi student caught in Texas as he was trying to build bombs and the failed attempt by a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen to detonate a car bomb in New York's bustling Times Square last year.

Melvin Bledsoe told the committee about his son Carlos who was radicalized at a mosque in Tennessee and in Yemen. His son later shot dead a U.S. soldier and wounded a second at a recruiting center in Arkansas in 2009.

"What happened to Carlos at those Nashville mosques isn't normal," he said. "I have other family members who are Muslims and they are modern, peaceful, law abiding people."

A Somali American from Minnesota told the committee about his nephew secretly traveling to Somalia to join and fight with the militant group al Shabaab. He said that U.S. mosque leaders warned his family against cooperating with law enforcement.

"The challenge is that the community is lacking strong and true leaders that translate the real voices of the average members of the community," Abdirizak Bihi said.

California Democratic Representative Jackie Speier, calling the hearing a "very skewed discussion," said the panel should have also spoken to witnesses from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and Justice Department.


Throughout the hearing, which was convened under tight security, Democrats and Republicans sparred over whether the focus on Muslim Americans was too narrow or was properly addressing the current threat picture.

The longest serving Democrat in the House, Representative John Dingell, whose state of Michigan has a large Muslim community, urged King to ensure that his investigation does not "blot the good name or the loyalty or raise questions about the decency of Arabs or Muslims or other Americans."

Republicans argued that the open efforts by al Qaeda and its affiliates to recruit within the Muslim community showed that they were on the right track.

"We are looking at a specific problem, and we're trying to deal with it," said Republican Representative Dan Lungren of California.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca praised cooperation by Muslims in his community and warned against focusing on a single constituency.

"This makes a false assumption that any particular religion or group is more prone to radicalization than others," he said.

(Editing by David Alexander and Jackie Frank)

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Comments (47)
USAPragmatist wrote:
Sigh, shame on Rep. King and his narrow mindedness. This is the type of thinking that contradicts everything that America. Are we not supposed to be a puristic society without discrimination with equal rights for all? I understand investigating domestic terrorism, but why single out Muslims. Not only is this wrong from a viewpoint of equal rights for all, but it is also wrong in trying to fight domestic terrorism. Muslim exteremism is one of the lowest threats in regards to domestic terrorism.

How come we never hear about his on FOX news or from people on the right?

OOO I know why, because FOX News is not a journalistic entity anymore but a shill for the Republican party and their talking points. One of which now is try install as much fear as possible in the American people.

Mar 10, 2011 10:33am EST  --  Report as abuse
cocostar wrote:
First it was Bin Laden and the Taliban in cahoots with Reagan and Bush 1 in Afghanistan fighting the Russians. While this is going on W and Osama’s brother are using the Bin Laden fortune to finance an oil company. Osama’s brother then mysteriously flies a gas powered ultralight into a power line and is electrocuted. W and a green Beret are present at the ACCIDENT. Osama then declares his brother was murdered and declares vengeance. The Saudis then Bomb the world trade center while the Bush and Cheney oil interest watch. Wouldn’t want to screw up their special interest foreign interest..?? The U.S. then declares Osama a terrorist.
Our CIA then devises a plan for a portable enemy that they call Al Qaeda which can turn up anywhere the special interest have an interest. And the pilfer politics of the military industrial complex with big oil at the helm bilks the U.S. out of trillions of tax free dollars on foreign soil.
Osama is DEAD! Been dead since the air strikes of the Clinton administration. Everything you have been hearing is propaganda and rhetoric devised by the Bush regimes and big oil. These republican tyrants are now more powerful than the U.S. government. That is why we have NO control over anything in our country. 20 years of Bush leaderships with President Reagan supposedly in charge for 8 of those 20 years. Along with 8 years of Clinton and an economic plan that worked. Then Obama shows up to the Bush disaster and the burnt out incompetence of his administration.
Don’t tell me that the republican party leadership is on America’s side. They have done nothing but bilk and loot this country for all twenty years they were in charge. Then the spin everything back at the Dems. and the country falls for it. The world is disgusted with America’s stupidity.
What part of either Bush regimes or the Reagan administration isn’t in question? Alli North and covert drug deal in American cities? Secret arms deal to the Iranians during the Iraq1 war? Exxon shipping oil out of Iran while they were at war with Iraq and under embargo? Iran contra? The savings and loan scandals and Neil Bush? Rumsfeld? Valerie Plane? Enron , world com? Cheney’s billions? Who said Kuwait had no strategic advantage? Why wasn’t the investigation of 911 started immediately? What better place to be than in a children’s class room during 911? Did the majority of the children have any idea who he really was? Why was he there?

Mar 10, 2011 10:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
JB_Michigan wrote:
Love the photo of Rep. King. Thats the only photo Reuters could come up with?? They forgot to draw the devil’s horns on his head.

Mar 10, 2011 10:59am EST  --  Report as abuse
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