American born terrorists are trying to kill us. Since 9/11, nearly fifty terrorist plots, germinated in the United States and aspiring to inflict substantial casualties on the American public, have been uncovered in various stages of development.
In an effort to address this emerging threat, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), incoming chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has indicated that he intends to hold hearings on the issues of radicalization, the underlying factors affecting its proliferation, and how best our society can collectively address this phenomenon.
Not surprising, several organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have come out against such an inquiry. A spokesman for CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, went so far as to suggest that Rep. King’s proposed hearings were tantamount to a “witch hunt,” stating,
“We’re concerned that it’ll become a McCarthy-type hearing.”
Pretending that the threat of homegrown radicalization, particularly in the Muslim community, does not exist does a disservice to both public safety as well as Muslims themselves, as it is their communities that are most threatened by the scourge of radicalization.
In a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released in September, forty homegrown terror plots dated between September 2001 and September 2010 were analyzed. A distinct uptick in the prevalence of domestic radicalization and homegrown terror can be seen in the 18 months directly preceding the release of the report.
Since the CRS report was originally released, it has been updated to include several additional terror plots that have been thwarted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Recent attempts at domestic terror have included a plot to attack the Washington D.C. Metro system as well as a failed attempt to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.
All of this data point to ominous signs for the continued security of the American homeland and underscore a fundamental reality: domestic radicalization is a very real, and increasingly prevalent menace.
Having public hearings to better understand and conceptualize the long-standing, but emergent threat of homegrown radicalization should be welcomed. Rather than using the red herring of “McCarthy-ism,” and eschewing the legitimacy of Rep. King’s inquiry, organizations dedicated to the advancement of the Muslim community should recognize the dangers inherent in an ideological battle that pits radicalized indoctrinators of hate against moderate, mainstream American Muslims.
Every American has a stake in the struggle against radicalization and a united, well-informed public stands the best chance of preventing the germ of radicalization from manifesting into a future act of terror. Rep. King’s proposed hearings present a valuable opportunity to enhance this dialogue; an opportunity that organizations such as CAIR should welcome.
Scott Erickson has worked in the field of law enforcement for the past decade and holds both his B.S. and M.S. in Criminal Justice Studies. He is a contributor to The Daily Caller and writes on myriad political, national security, and counterterrorism issues. His blog can be found at www.scottgerickson.com