The Campaign Spot

The Largely Ignored Prequel to Peter King’s Radicalization Hearing

It’s rather fascinating that so many folks are up in arms about Rep. Peter King’s hearing on radicalization of American-born Muslims, when the Senate committee with the roughly equivalent jurisdiction held a hearing on Fort Hood that dealt quite a bit with the same topic. Those hearings and the report they generated were largely ignored.

Joe Lieberman, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, unveils the committee’s conclusions here:

Among the Senate committee report’s conclusions:

Despite the remarkable work of America’s military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies in preventing individual terrorist attacks, the ideology that inspired 9/11 and other attacks and plots around the world continues to motivate individuals to commit terrorism. The threat is exemplified by Omar Hammami, an American from a typical upbringing in Alabama who now fights for the violent lslamist extremist group al-Shabaab in Somalia and recruits Westerners to its cause in English over the internet. As Hammami said, “they can’ t blame it on poverty or any of that stuff . . . They will have to realize that it’s an ideology and it’s a way of life that makes people change.” . . .

The Committee’s 2008 staff report concluded that the threat of homegrown terrorism inspired by violent Islamist extremist ideology would increase due to the focused online efforts of that ideology’s adherents and how individuals were using the internet to access this propaganda. Indeed, the incidence of homegrown terrorism has increased significantly in the past two years as compared to the years since 9/ 11. From May 2009 to November 2010, there were 22 different homegrown plots, contrasted with 21 such plots from September 2001 to May 2009 . . .

Proceeding in the radicalization process from the level of Self-Identification to the levels of Indoctrination and Violence has been made easier by “virtual spiritual sanctioners.’’ These individuals provide a false sense of religious justification for an act of terrorism over the internet. Though many individuals around the globe have become purveyors of violent Islamist extremism, a foremost example of a “virtual spiritual sanctioner” is Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S.citizen now operating from Yemen. In 2008 , then-Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Charlie Allen stated publicly, “Another example of al-Qaeda reach into the Homeland is U.S. citizen, al Qaeda supporter, and former spiritual leader to three of the September 11th hijackers Anwar al-Aulaqi — who targets U.S. Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen.”

It seems the options for government investigations in this topic are either to be ignored or to be demonized.

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