Even White House supports counterradicalization efforts 

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has taken a lot of flak for holding a congressional hearing on the extent of radicalization in the Muslim-American Community. One of the most controversial topics during Thursday’s hearing was a discussion about the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which Washington Post bloggers Felicia Sonmez and Michelle Boorstein said was “used as a lightning rod during the hearing, sort of a proxy for the often cited but unnamed ‘Muslim organizations’ that King and several of his witnesses said were the problem and were encouraging innocent, patriotic Muslim Americans not to work with law enforcement.”

But if King’s hearing set a “dangerous precedent,” as the Post’s Richard Cohen maintains –  why aren’t critics like Cohen also attacking the Obama administration?

On March 1, Attorney General Eric Holder admitted at a separate congressional hearing that the Department of Justice has  “a troubled history” with CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. 

Testifying before the House Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va.. Holder said counteracting the efforts of groups like CAIR is a major goal of President Obama: “Counterradicalization efforts are something the president has focused on and he told his national security team that he wants an effective, robust program.”

Despite its ties to Hamas, which were uncovered during the Department of Justice's Holy Land investigation, CAIR “has been granted access to the highest levels of the U.S. government,” Rep. Wolf himself testified Thursday before King’s House Homeland Security Committee. He pointed to a CAIR poster that also made an appearance  at the King hearings, which specifically urges Muslims not to cooperate with the FBI in rooting out terrorists in their communities.

"My concern is not limited to [CAIR’s} disturbing origins and connections to terrorist finances," Wolf said Thursday. "I'm equally concerned about its role attacking the reputation of any who dare to raise concerns about domestic radicalization."

Holder filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona to protect the rights of foreigners who enter the nation illegally. Will he likewise protect the First Amendment rights of people who speak out against the dangers of Islamic extremism, or counter efforts by state and national CAIR leaders from intimidating American Muslims from cooperating with federal law enforcement?

The Congressional Research Service listed 43 terrorist plots or outright attacks the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001 - including 22 within just the past two years. A disturbing number of accused and convicted jihadists are from Northern Virginia, Wolf pointed out.

The list includes:

  • Farooque Ahmed, of Ashburn, accused of plotting to blow up two Metro stations.
  • Zachary Chesser, of Oakton, sentenced to 30 years in prison for providing material support to terrorists in Somalia.
  • Army Major Nidal Hassan, a Virginia Tech graduate and former Arlington resident, charged with the shooting deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood.
  • Abdul Rahman Al-Amoudi, of Falls Church, sentenced to 23 years in prison for helping to finance terrorist activities and conspiring to assassinate a Saudi crown prince.
  • Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 1999 valedictorian of the Islamic Saudi Academy, who was senteneced to life in prison for plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush.
  • * Anwar Aulaqi, a preacher at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church and now leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who recruited Hassan, accused Christmas Day “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, who was recently sentenced to life in prison after defiantly warning that there would be more violent attacks on American civilians.

Wolf, the first member of Congress to warn his colleagues about the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, is calling for a creation of “Team B” – a collection of outside experts that would evaluate U.S. counterterrorism policies to date and offer recommendations to deal with emerging threats from Islamic extremists.  

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