Politics & Policy

King Hearings Are Overdue

‘Katrina/Rita FEMA Trailers: Are They Safe or Environmental Time Bombs?” “Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and the Federal Workforce.” “Online Privacy, Social Networking, and Crime Victimization.” “The State of U.S. Coins and Currency.” “Diversity and the Department of Homeland Security: Continuing Challenges and New Opportunities.” “Civil Rights Services and Diversity Initiatives in the Coast Guard.” “Protecting Animal and Public Health: Homeland Security and the Federal Veterinarian Workforce.” “The Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2009.” “Tribal Police Recruitment, Hiring, Training, and Retention at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.” “Organized Retail Crime.”

These are some of the topics about which the sundry homeland-security committees and subcommittees of the Democrat-controlled 111th Congress saw fit to hold hearings. The list drastically underrepresents the number of panels concerned with post-Katrina self-flagellation and the ever-impending influenza epidemic, obsessions that suggest DHS’s top security priorities are protecting citizens from family orthomyxoviridae and low-pressure systems of uncommon size. And those hearings in the 111th that did focus on “man-caused disasters” were concerned primarily with overreacting to the Deepwater Horizon spill and the missing the point of the fizzled Christmas Day attack (grope-a-dope, anyone?).

Against this backdrop, the scandal is not that House Committee on Homeland Security chairman Peter King (R., N.Y.) will tomorrow hold hearings on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” The scandal is that they have been so long in coming.

The Department of Homeland Security was created in direct response to an act of Islamic terror, an act perpetrated by radical Muslims who lived and worked, planned and plotted inside the United States. Post-9/11, the threat of homegrown jihad is as great or greater. Just yesterday, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a Colorado mother who had converted to Islam, married a suspected Algerian terrorist, and moved with him to Ireland to plot attacks in Europe, pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge. She had previously been in contact with Colleen LaRose — aka Jihad Jane — a Pennsylvania woman who herself pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the name of Islam. As we write, Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major of Palestinian descent, who was radicalized in the same Virginia mosque that nourished a number of the 9/11 hijackers and their American-born spiritual leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, sits in jail for the religiously motivated slaughter of 13 at Ft. Hood. He joins Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, who will spend the rest of his life in prison after a botched attempt to blow up Times Square for the favor of Allah. Then there are Bryant Neal Vinas, Sharif Mobley, John Walker Lindh, and “the D.C. Five,” all American-born converts to radical Islam arrested in the course of waging jihad against the United States.

These aren’t mere anecdotes. They are constitutive of the brute fact that homegrown terror is an overwhelmingly Islamic phenomenon. And yet a search of the Homeland Security hearings in the 111th yields not one mention of Islamism or jihad. So the cries of religious persecution from groups like CAIR and their allies on the left badly miss the point: It isn’t that we have cast a discriminatory eye toward Islam, but that excessive concern with the pieties of multicultural relativism has prevented us from being sufficiently critical of Islamism. A problem cannot be dealt with that is not first faced foursquarely, and, to appropriate a phrase, we have for too long been a nation of cowards when it comes to addressing jihadist radicalism between our shores. Representative King’s hearings make an honest first effort to do that.

Among the witnesses expected to appear at the hearing is Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, head of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, whom we expect to provide an overview of the threat of not only violent but also cultural jihad being waged by Islamists inside the United States. Witnesses Melvin Bledsoe and Abdirizak Bihi will share their firsthand knowledge of this threat. Bihi’s nephew, Burhan Hassan, was radicalized in a Minneapolis mosque and in 2008, at the age of 17, disappeared to Somalia, where he died, apparently fighting for the Islamist group al-Shaheeb. Mr. Bledsoe’s son, Carlos, converted to Islam in college after traveling to Yemen and went by the name Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad when he shot two army recruiters in Little Rock in 2009, killing one. We expect both men’s testimony to be both heart-rending and sobering.

There will of course be some dead weight among the witnesses: We doubt that Reps. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) and John Dingell (D., Mich.) will add much to the proceedings, besides defending their many peaceful Muslim constituents from an attack no one is contemplating. And we wish King had called the likes of Steve Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and an indispensable voice on Islamism in America. But it is our understanding that this will be only the first of several hearings on the subject. So there may, at long last, be time to address this long-neglected topic.


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