As House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King (R., N.Y.) opened this morning’s hearings on domestic Muslim radicalism, his ears must have stung from the nasty names he had been called.
“McCarthyite,” some charged. The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson believed King was fueling “irrational fears.” Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada worried that King would “demonize law-abiding American Muslims.”
Georgetown University Islamic-studies professor John Esposito called King’s hearing “a platform for Islamophobia
draped in the American flag, reinforcing ignorance, stereotypes, bigotry, and intolerance in the name of national security.”
If King deserves such vitriol, so do key Obama administration officials who share King’s grave concerns about homegrown Islamic extremists and their threat to national security.
• “It is one of the things that keeps me up at night,” Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News’s Pierre Thomas last December. “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.”
• “The terrorist threat to the homeland is, in many ways, at its most heightened state since 9/11,” homeland-security secretary Janet Napolitano told King’s committee on February 9. “We are now operating under the assumption, based on the latest intelligence and recent arrests, that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of violence might be in the United States.”
Napolitano added that a January report “from the New York State Intelligence Center, the fusion center for the State of New York, examining 32 major terrorism cases in the United States related to al-Qaeda-like ideology since 9/11, shows that 50 of the 88 individuals involved in those plots were U.S. citizens at the time of their arrests, and among those citizens, a clear majority were natural-born.”
• “Al-Qaeda and its adherents have increasingly turned to another troubling tactic: attempting to recruit and radicalize people to terrorism here in the United States,” deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough told Virginia’s Adams Center on Sunday. “How do we know this? Well, al-Qaeda tells us. They’re not subtle. They make videos, create Internet forums, even publish online magazines, all for the expressed purpose of trying to convince Muslim Americans to reject their country and attack their fellow Americans.”
• McDonough cited former Californian Adam Gadahn, now a self-described al-Qaeda spokesman. American-born Anwar al-Awlaki now ruthlessly directs al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, presumably from deep inside Yemen. McDonough also mentioned Omar Hammami, an Alabamian who joined the Somali terror group al-Shabaab and, McDonough says, “uses rap and hip hop in an attempt to reach young Americans.”
“I am taking the next logical step,” Representative King told me. “I am listening to the administration and acting on the information that they are giving us. Janet Napolitano came before my committee, and she testified about this threat. Eric Holder went on TV and talked about it. Denis McDonough spoke with me at home about his speech, and he encouraged me to go ahead with the hearing. He said, ‘We welcome the hearing and congressional involvement.’ If Eric Holder is staying up at night thinking about this, I think I should hold hearings, so that he can get a good night’s sleep.”