What do a military recruitment center in Baltimore, a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, and a smoking SUV in Times Square have in common? They were each locations targeted by American Muslims determined to inflict fear and kill fellow Americans. Homegrown Islamic terrorism poses a tremendous threat to the United States.
Anwar al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico, was the Muslim Chaplain at George Washington University and an Imam at a mosque in northern Virginia, before leaving the United States to coordinate al-Qaeda’s outreach to U.S. Muslims. Awlaki was in direct communication with the men arrested for the Ft. Hood shootings and Times Square Bombings. Remember the Underwear Bomber? Awlaki trained him. The parcel bombs were Awlaki’s work too.
In a November article in Foreign Policy, author and research fellow Thomas Hegghammer described the U.S. born terror leader as “arguably the single most important individual behind the group’s [al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula] efforts to carry out operations in the West.” Awlaki is more than an ideologue. As Hegghammer points out, he is an organizer and a recruiter.
So when Rep. Peter King (R-NY) announced that as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, he will hold hearings on “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism,” how did the Council on American-Islamic Relations respond? CAIR calls the coming hearings a “witch hunt” that “is just going to further marginalize American Muslims and demonize Islam.”
Instead of attempting to “demonize” Americans concerned with homegrown radical Islam, Muslims should actively participate in these hearings to discuss how their faith is combating terror. The defensive, shift the discussion, allege “Islamophobia” tactics by CAIR are damaging to American Muslims and fuel distrust in non-Muslims.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee also opposes the hearings, calling King’s intentions “bigoted.” The group’s legal director said, “We are disturbed that this representative who is in a leadership position does not have the understanding and knowledge of what the realities are on the ground.” If they believe this to be is true, why not agree to participate and educate Congress?
These hearings are an opportunity for American Muslims to demonstrate their commitment to the United States and fighting terrorism. Missing this chance to impact the discussion would be a gross miscalculation.
More On Faith:
Another view on the proposed hearings from Eboo Patel.