Some of the material in this report was originally published in written testimony CAIR submitted to Rep. King’s first hearing.
Before the Hearings: King Places an Entire Community Under Suspicion………………………………………5
Hearing 1: The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….8
Hearing 2: The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons…………………………………10
Hearing 3: Al Shabaab Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland……………………………………………………………………………………………….11
Hearing 4: Homegrown Terrorism the Threat to Military Communities Inside the
Evidence Available Prior to the Hearings Contradicts King’s Allegations Against American Muslims…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….14
Appendix: Rep. King’s Questions to Witnesses During the First Four Hearings…….…………………18
Appendix: Hearing Witnesses…………………………………………………………………………………………….……..21
KING’S CONTRADICTORY MESSAGE ON MUSLIMS
King: Muslim community makes “tremendous contributions”
“…there's no desire on anyone's part to denigrate the tremendous contributions made by the Muslim American community. We're talking about a very small, small minority, but a lethal minority.”
–Rep. Peter King, during the fourth hearing, December 7, 2011.
King: Muslim community “does not cooperate”
“When a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it’s pressure, whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should.”
–Rep. Peter King interview on Secure Freedom Radio With Frank Gaffney, January 6, 2011.
King: “There is a real threat to the country from the Muslim community”
There is a real threat to the country from the Muslim community and the only way to get to the bottom of it is to investigate what is happening."
-Rep. Peter King, interview with Associated Press, February 22, 2011.
Established in 2002, the House Homeland Security Committee’s mission is to “better protect the American people against a possible terrorist attack.”[i] A sober and objective examination of violent extremism and the threat it presents to our nation is the committee’s legitimate business. Sweeping indictments of an entire religious community are not.
Since 2004, current committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) has maintained two sweeping indictments of the American Muslim community: that its leadership is overwhelmingly extremist and that its members do not cooperate with law enforcement.
CAIR believes that eighteen witnesses and four hearings were more than enough opportunity for the chairman to prove his case. This paper examines his results.
In 2011, Rep. Peter King, chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, held four hearings investigating radicalization within the American Muslim community.
For seven years prior to the first hearing, King had maintained that “80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists" and that average Muslims "are loyal," but "don't come forward, they don't tell the police what they know. They won't turn in their own."[ii] In December 2010, he staunchly announced that he will “stand-by” the 85 percent number.[iii] King substitutes other terms for “Islamic fundamentalists” such as “Islamic radicals” or “radical imams.”
After announcing the hearings, King wrote, “Federal and local law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or - in most cases - no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams.”[iv] King promised Fox News that during the hearings, “There will be law enforcement familiar with the facts.” [v]
Today, after eight years, four hearings and eighteen witnesses, King has failed to produce the promised evidence to support his stigmatization of America’s Muslims.
Not a single witness attempted to factually validate the allegation of a Muslim community run by extremists. King made only one foray into backing up his allegation during the entire series of hearings. He asked Zuhdi Jasser if extremism is a “systemic problem” in the American Muslim community. Jasser, a physician who works closely with the anti-Muslim movement, is not an expert and has conducted no research on the topic. Jasser’s response: “It's a minority, but there's an ideology that exists in some mosques -- not all, not a majority -- but in some mosques. And it's a significant number.”
Five of the six law enforcement representatives who testified did not support King’s assertion that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement. Instead, these witnesses described “strong relationships” with Somali Muslims, “strong bonds” with the American Muslim community and “outreach and engagement with Muslim communities…” Prior to the hearings, FBI Director Muller had told the House Judiciary Committee, “that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States."
Over the course of four hearings, King did prove what was already known: that a small number of individuals within the American Muslim community are susceptible to violent extremism.
King’s record of leveling unsubstantiated allegations and biased attacks on the Muslim community and habit of naming people with records of anti-Muslim bias as potential witnesses and information sources denies him any current credibility in discussions about American Muslims and homeland security.
King’s committee is charged with helping better protect the homeland against terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda and its allies remain the most significant terrorist threat to our nation, but other groups have carried out attacks. King’s decision to give these other groups a free pass allows them a safer space to operate outside the light of his committee’s scrutiny.
Before the Hearings: King Places an Entire Community Under Suspicion
In December of 2010, as the incoming chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, King announced his intention to hold a series of congressional hearings examining the “radicalization of Muslim Americans.”
The announcement generated broad-spectrum disapproval centered on two main themes that persisted through the year: 1) King’s record of leveling unsubstantiated allegations and biased attacks on the Muslim community; 2) King placing an entire community under suspicion.
Additional concern was generated prior to the first hearing as King repeatedly named people with records of anti-Muslim bias as potential witnesses and information sources.
King’s record of leveling unsubstantiated allegations and biased attacks on the Muslim community
In February of 2004, Rep. King was promoting a novel he had written when he told interviewer Sean Hannity, "You could say that 80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists" and that average Muslims "are loyal," but "don't come forward, they don't tell the police what they know. They won't turn in their own."[vi] In December 2010, he staunchly announced that he will “stand-by” the 85 percent number.[vii]
In 2007, he said, "Unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country.”[viii]
In December 2010, after announcing the hearings, King wrote, “Federal and local law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or - in most cases - no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams.”[ix]
In early 2011, King added more to the allegation of non-cooperation and implied that American Muslims are not “American” when it comes to protecting our nation during times of war:[x]
“…when a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it’s pressure, whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should. The irony is that we’re living in two different worlds. One is the real world that I find when I’m talking with police officers, talking with federal law enforcement authorities. And when I raise the question of Muslim cooperation, they look at me like ‘oh of course not, no there’s no cooperation, we don’t anticipate that.’ You know, ‘We never expect cooperation.’ They try but hardly ever get it.”
Concerns that King is Putting an Entire Community Under Suspicion
Criticism has abounded regarding the repercussions King’s hearings would have on innocent American Muslims tainted by the acts of a tiny minority of violent extremists.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) the Homeland Security Committee’s most senior Democrat sent a letter to King in February urging him to expand the focus of the hearings to cover ideological-based violence of all kinds. In his letter, Thompson cited a 2008 survey of state police by a DHS entity that found local police naming “neo-Nazi groups” as a “serious threat” in more states that “Islamic extremist groups.”[xi]
The Hill later reported that, “…nearly 100 of [King’s] Democratic House colleagues pleaded with him to cancel it.”[xii] Among those appealing to King was Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) who spent time in his youth in a WWII internment camp for Japanese Americans. In an op-ed posted on CNN’s web site, Honda wrote, “These hearings do little to keep our country secure and do plenty to increase prejudice, discrimination and hate. I thought we learned a lesson or two from my internment camp experience in Colorado. I hope I am not proven wrong.”[xiii]
In early February, a coalition of 51 interfaith and human rights groups, led by Muslim Advocates, sent a letter to the House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, asking the congressional leaders to“...urge [King] to address violence motivated by extremist beliefs, in all its forms, in a full, fair and objective way. The hearings should proceed from a clear understanding that individuals are responsible for their actions, not entire communities."[xiv]
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of over 200 organizations, sent their own letter to congress in February, stating that they “strongly believe that as currently framed, these hearings will inevitably stoke anti-Muslim sentiment and increase suspicion and fear of the American Muslim community.”[xv]
Similarly, two days before the first hearing on March 10, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with over forty other civil liberties groups, sent a letter to King saying, “Treating an entire community as suspect because of the bad acts or intolerant statements of a few is imprudent and unfair and in the past has only led to greater misunderstanding, injustice and discrimination.”[xvi]
Additionally, over 80 faith leaders from across Long Island, King’s home district, followed suit and also sent a letter to King with comparable appeals.[xvii]
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim to be elected to Congress called the hearings a “witch hunt,” likening them to the Cold War-era McCarthy hearings.[xviii]
Media critics of the hearing made their voices heard, too. A New York Times editorial called the hearings a “sweeping slur on Muslim citizens.”[xix]
In advance of the second hearing, the National Jewish Democratic Committee issued a statement saying, "Once again, King has singled out the adherents of the Muslim faith, calling into question the loyalty of an entire community."[xx]
Naming People with Questionable Records as Potential Witnesses and Information Sources
In January, King told Politico that Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a potential witness. The Politico article was subsequently placed on the House Homeland Security Committee’s web site belaying any arguments that the reporter was misinformed.
After this announcement several groups called King’s attention to Ali’s extreme anti-Muslim and anti-Constitution rhetoric. For example, during the course of a single 2007 interview with Reason Magazine Ali said, “I think that we are at war with Islam” and called for Islam to be “defeated.” Later in the interview, Ali suggested that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to allow for discrimination against Muslims. King dropped Ali, but the question of where he was getting his advice about potential witnesses was in place.
Subsequently, a National Review article–again posted on the House Homeland Security Committee’s website–announced that Walid Phares was a planned witness for the first hearing.
In a letter to King, CAIR noted that Phares is a former official with a Christian militia implicated, by Israel’s official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.
In the late 1990s, leading members of Phares’ World Lebanese Organization (WLO) included the deputy commander of a group known for systematically torturing prisoners during the Lebanon conflict. Another leading WLO member headed a militia known for atrocities during the Lebanese civil war.
Phares was dropped as well. However, even after learning of Phares’ associations, King issued a statement saying he will rely on Phares “for his advice and counsel as these hearings go forward.”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Walid Phares as either potential witnesses gave reasonable pause to anyone who was still hoping King’s plan was to hold sober and objective hearings.
King was also comfortable appearing with known Islamophobes in the lead-up to the hearings. In January, King appeared on Frank Gaffney’s Secure Freedom radio program. Among other things, Gaffney is known for birthing the conspiracy theory that a military patch with a crescent on it was a sign that Islam is taking over America. In February, King appeared on the debut episode of ACT! For America’s new cable TV show according to a press release issued by the group. ACT! Founder Brigitte Gabriel is known for her belief that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.”
Hearing 1: The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response
The first hearing was held on March 10, 2011. Given that the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life later called it the “top Islam-related story of the year” this was King’s moment to have government, law enforcement and expert witnesses support the his allegations against the Muslim community.
Instead, three of the four witnesses on the hearing’s key second panel had no homeland security or other professional expertise relevant to the hearing’s topic. These men were not the law enforcement familiar with the facts King had promised Fox News. The only witness who did represent law enforcement was selected by the Democrats. 
Two of King’s witnesses offered anecdotal stories of personal tragedy.
Mr. Melvin Bledsoe related his tragic personal experience of watching his son become a violent extremist who attacked a military recruiting center in 2009.
Mr. Abdirizak Bihi suffered the tragic experience of having a nephew disappear from Minnesota only to later reappear with a terrorist group in Somalia. Bihi has been described as a “lightening rod” in the Minneapolis Somali community. [xxi] As a substitute for law enforcement or otherwise expert verification of King’s charge of Muslim non-cooperation, Bihi was an unusual choice given his own troubles with police.
Allegations Bihi made against against Minnesota Somali leaders were not supported by the FBI. Special Agent E.K Wilson of the FBI’s Minneapolis division was quoted the next day saying: "At this point, we have uncovered no evidence to show there was any effort of any mosque or mosque leadership or mosque imam to take part in any recruitment or radicalization of these young men.”[xxii]
King’s third witness, M. Zuhdi Jasser, believes, “…operationally, Islam is not peaceful.”[xxiii] He has previously acknowledged that he is not an expert in Islam, saying, “I reassert the fact that I am not a formal expert in Koranic Arabic, or in sharia (Islamic jurisprudence).”[xxiv] The New York Times said Jasser “has little following among Muslims but has become a favorite of conservatives for his portrayal of American Muslim leaders as radical Islamists.”[xxv]
Jasser’s limited following among Muslims may be a result of his close ties with known Islamophobes. Jasser narrates the Clarion Fund’s anti-Muslim propaganda film Third Jihad. His organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (“AFID”) “applauded” an anti-Muslim amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution,[xxvi] even though the U.S. Constitution clearly forbids the government from singling out one religious faith.
In King’s only foray into backing up his “80%, 85% of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists” allegation during the entire series of hearings he asked Jasser if extremism is a “systemic problem” in the American Muslim community. Jasser, a physician, is not an expert and has conducted no research on the topic. Jasser’s response to King is unenlightening: “It's a minority, but there's an ideology that exists in some mosques -- not all, not a majority -- but in some mosques. And it's a significant number.”
Aftermath of the First Hearing
Media and public attention on the first hearing was significant. In Religion in the News: Islam and Politics Dominate Religion Coverage in 2011, a report released on February 23, 2012, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life called the hearing the “top Islam-related story of the year” and noted that “media coverage of the hearing characterized it as emotional and combative.”
Analysis in the wake of the hearing echoed the concerns leveled in weeks leading to the hearing:
-Editorial Board,” Mr. King’s sound and fury,” New York Times, March 12, 2011
Hearing 2: The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons
King’s second hearing, held in June, focused on prison radicalization. The hearing did not feature any witnesses from the Bureau of Prisons or the Department of Justice.
In his opening remarks, King noted this was the third Congressional hearing on the issue in recent years. King noted a “large number” of prison radicalization cases.
Seven months earlier, the Congressional Research Service (CRS)—the non-partisan entity within the Library of Congress that does research for Members of Congress—reported, “Based on CRS analysis of the 43 violent jihadist plots and attacks since 9/11, only one involved radicalization in prison. A study of 117 homegrown jihadist terrorists from the United States and the United Kingdom found only seven cases in which prison had a significant impact on an individual’s radicalization process.”
This led CRS to conclude, “The lack of conclusive prison-based radicalization among the jihadist terrorism plots and foiled attacks since 9/11 suggests that the threat emanating from prisons does not seem as substantial as some experts may fear.”[xxvii] When CRS updated the report in November 2011 one of 53 plots involved prison radicalization, the conclusion on prison radicalization from the first report remained unchanged.
Witnesses reflected this conclusion.
Michael Downing, deputy chief and commanding officer of the CounterTerrorism and Special Operations Bureau of the Los Angeles Police Department's said it “remains a phenomena (sic) of low volume.”
In his written testimony, Professor Bert Useem of Purdue University, whose work was funded by institutions affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, concluded, “My core argument, then, is that U.S. prisons are not systematically generating a terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.”
Patrick Dunleavy a retired deputy inspector formerly with the New York Department of Correctional Services and Kevin Smith, a former U.S. attorney both addressed isolated cases of prison radicalization. Duleavy’s testimony focused on the group Dar ul-Islam. While Smith focused on Jam'iyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh( JIS).
Media coverage of the second hearing was minimal.
In its reporting on the second hearing, Politico said, “…though King painted the threat as serious, the evidence to support that claim provided by witnesses was mixed.” According to Politico “…all [the witnesses] seemed to emphasize the low occurrence of such cases…”[xxviii]
Hearing 3: Al Shabaab Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland
The third hearing in the series was held in July. Again, there were no witnesses representing the federal government, the most important entity engaged in protecting the homeland from international terrorism.
In the days prior to the hearing, Anders Breivik, a lone wolf violent extremist in Norway, murdered sixty-nine people in an anti-Islam rampage. Breivik’s writings showed significant influence from U.S.-based anti-Muslim elements. Despite this connection, King maintained his refusal to broaden the scope of the hearing to include other forms of violent extremism.
During the course of the hearing, witnesses also lent credence to a need for vigilance against terror threats of all kinds.
William Anders Folk, former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, said that his professional experiences, “taught me that extremist views that fuel terrorists, whether homegrown or foreign, al-Shabaab, Al Qaida, or otherwise, are capable of extraordinary acts of violence. And they require the unwavering attention of law enforcement.” Questioned by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) the Chief Tom Smith of Police of Saint Paul, Minnesota also agreed about the need to be concerned about domestic-based terror from groups such as white extremists. Mr. Thomas Joscelyn, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, replied “certainly” to a question about Al-Shabaab attempting to recruit in communities other than among Muslims.
In his opening statement for the hearing, King cited an incident in Minneapolis, saying, “When one cleric spoke out against al-Shabaab inside the Minneapolis mosque where many of the missing young Somali-American men had once worshipped, he was physically assaulted, according to police.”
The Islamic scholar, cleric in King’s words, was at the mosque by invitation of its leadership. Hasan Jama, the mosque director, was the victim of the attack. Prior to Jama’s leadership, Federal authorities alleged that some young attendees of the mosque had gone to join Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Since taking the director position, Jama had been involved in flooding the mosque with “positive and peaceful messages.”[xxix]
A news report on the incident also noted, “[FBI] officials say the mosque's leaders have been involved in ongoing conversations between law enforcement and community members.”[xxx]
King’s example gives another indication of a Muslim community leadership that is engaged in defeating violent extremism.
This mosque, the Abubakar as Saddique Islamic Center, was soundly criticized during the first hearing by witness Abdirazik Bihi. Bihi, who as noted earlier has had issues with law enforcement, alleged that mosque leadership had been complacent when the young men disappeared. In contrast, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune had previously noted, “FBI Special Agent Ralph Boelter, who investigated the Somalis who fled Minnesota to join the al-Shabaab terror group, said Muslim-Americans couldn't have been more helpful.”[xxxi] On the same day as the hearing, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak issued a statement which said, in part, “Minneapolis’ large and vibrant Somali community has been bravely dealing with this problem [Al-Shabaab efforts to recruit local youths] head-on for years, and I fully support their efforts to do so.”[xxxii]
Turning back to Rep. King’s opening statement, the chairman also attempted to make the argument that his hearings, “are also liberating and empowering to the many Muslim-Americans who have been intimidated by the leaders in their own communities, and are now willing and able to come forward.” King asked witness Ahmed Hussen, a Canadian, to support this. Hussen said “yes,” but spoke only to shared values between Islam and the West, not to the dubious claim of “benefits” of King’s hearings, saying, “…our religion is not incompatible with American or Canadian values.” There is nothing in Hussen’s written testimony supporting the notion of King “liberating and empowering” Muslims.
Hussen, the hearing’s first witness, discussed the Canadian-Somali community at length. It is reasonable to question why this witness was selected. After the first hearing, Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones had called attention to “the good things happening here in Minnesota with our Somali community."[xxxiii] FBI agent Boelter, quoted above, also indicated a “helpful” Somali community. Why did King feel the need to go outside the United States for a witness, given that law enforcement officials had indicated a Somali community in Minnesota that was concerned and helpful?
Chief Smith also talked about a cooperative and supportive community outlining a successful community engagement program that had generated “positive relationships.” Smith also mentioned “the [community] elders who regularly visit my office.”
According to the witnesses, groups like Al-Shabaab show no compunction about killing Muslims.
“More Muslims are killed by Shabaab than anybody. That's who they target,” said Folk. Jocelyn concurred, “most of Shabaab's terrorism is actually focused on Muslims, both in Somalia and also the victimization of Muslims I would say internationally… What they did is they found any Muslims that weren't willing to work with them and they systematically killed them.”
Folk summed up neatly, the sober and objective reality regarding Al-Shebab: “The reality, Congressman, is that only a very small number of Somalis that have left the United States--or that have joined al-Shabaab--only a small number of Somalis have joined al-Shabaab as compared to the total number. But the reality is even that small number as compared to the large population is too many.”
The hearing received insignificant media and public attention.
Hearing 4: Homegrown Terrorism the Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States
The fourth hearing was held jointly with the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee in December. This hearing featured two Department of Defense witnesses.
In his opening remarks, Rep. Bennie Thompson expressed the ongoing concern that singling out a faith minority as the sole threat could stigmatize Muslims.
Rep. King responded saying, “…there's no desire on anyone's part to denigrate the tremendous contributions made by the Muslim American community. We're talking about a very small, small minority, but a lethal minority.”
This remark stands in stark contrast to King’s statement, cited earlier in this report, to Frank Gaffney a few months earlier: “When a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it’s pressure, whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should.”[xxxiv](Emphasis is CAIRs.)
The issue of broadening King’s examination of threats to homeland security received more attention than just Rep. Thompson’s comment.
When asked by Rep. Laura Richardson (R-CA) if the “threat to U.S. communities is limited to Islamic extremists only, yes or no?” All three Department of Defense witnesses on the first panel said no.
United States Army Senior Advisor on Counterintelligence Operations and liaison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Jim Stuteville, said that the Army was training its personnel to focus on “behavioral activity, not on any specific ideology, religion, or ethnic group. We adopted that approach because we want to make sure that we can account for any type of threat, both those previously and those in the future.”
Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point cited the “Christian right movement and the identity movement.”
While questioning the witnesses, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) probed the administration’s decision to identify Al-Qaeda and its allies as our enemy. Lungren, King and some others prefer “violent Islamic extremists” and dismiss any other terminology politically correct. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs Paul N. Stockton responded, “That is a prime propaganda tool. And I'm not going to aid and abet that effort to advance their propaganda goals.” Stockton added, “…I don't believe it's helpful to frame our adversary as Islamic with any set of qualifiers that we might add, because we are not at war with Islam.” The Assistant secretary finished say, “This [use of terminology] is not about political correctness. This is about defeating our adversaries.”
The hearing’s final witness had a tragic personal story to offer, but was not an expert on the subject a hand. Mr. Darius Long is the father of a young soldier who was murdered by a violent extremist. Mr. Long and his family have a long record of honorable service to the nation and their loss is a national tragedy.
A report issued by King’s committee staff on December 7, 2011 does acknowledge the honorable military service of many members of the American Muslim community:
At least 6,024 U.S. service members who declared Islam as their faith have served honorably in overseas war deployments since the 9/11 attacks, and 14 Muslim-American troops have been killed in action, all in Iraq, the Pentagon informed the Committee’s Majority Staff. We honor these American heroes, four of whom are buried in nearby Arlington National Cemetery, for making the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation.
Media and public attention to the hearing was again limited.
In its coverage of the hearing, CNN noted that “terrorist threats against U.S. officials and police that have nothing to do with Islamist militancy are surely also worthy of the scrutiny of Congress, but neither the Senate nor House homeland security committee, nor it seems any other congressional committee, has examined the issue in any detail since 9/11.”[xxxv]
Evidence Available Prior to the Hearings Contradicts King’s Allegations Against American Muslims
In April 2008, FBI Director Robert Mueller, told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee: "I re-affirm the fact that 99.9 percent of Muslim-Americans … are every bit as patriotic as anybody else in this room, and that many of our cases are a result of the cooperation from the Muslim community in the United States."
The following year, Mueller told a Senate committee the Muslim community "has been tremendously supportive and worked very closely with [the FBI] in a number of instances around the country."
The RAND Corporation’s Brian Michael Jenkins finds the suggestion of “an American [Muslim] population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence” in his 2010 paper Would-Be Warriors.
Similarly, the December 2010 Congressional Research Service report American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat cites numerous examples of Muslim community activities and federal engagement and partnership activities with Muslim-American communities.
Quintan Wiktorowicz, senior director for global engagement at the White House National Security Council, shattered stereotypes about Muslims and radicalization when his research found that religious Muslims are in fact the most resistant to radicalization. “As part of his research,” NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reported on January 24, 2011, “Wiktorowicz interviewed hundreds of Islamists in the United Kingdom. After, compiling his interviews he came to the conclusion that—contrary to popular belief—very religious Muslims were in fact the people who ended up being the most resistant to radicalization.”
"One of the important things about counterradicalization is that about perhaps 10 percent of it is law enforcement and intelligence, 90 percent of it are things that have relatively little to do with that," said Wiktorowicz. "Counterradicalization also has to include things like politicians visiting Muslim communities, messaging and beefing up education about Islam among Muslims themselves.”
A 2010 report by scholars at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recommended that policymakers reinforce anti-radicalization activities already underway in American Muslim communities.
“Muslim-Americans organizations and the vast majority of individuals that we interviewed firmly reject the radical extremist ideology that justifies the use of violence to achieve political ends,” said the report’s co-author David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Co-author David Kurzman also said, “Muslim-American communities have been active in preventing radicalization.”
In February, 2011 the scholars at Duke University and the University of North Carolina published “Muslim American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting.” The study reports that:
· While 47 Muslim-Americans committed or were arrested for terrorist crimes in 2009, the number dropped to 20 this past year.
· The number of Muslim-Americans engaged in terrorist acts with domestic targets declined from 18 in 2009 to 10 in 2010.
· Eleven Muslim Americans have successfully executed terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11, killing 33 people. This is about 3 deaths per year. There have been approximately 150,000 murders in the United States since 9/11. According to the FBI there were approximately 15,241 murders in the United States in 2009.
· Tips from the Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.
Similarly, the Post 9/11 Terrorism Database created by the Muslim Public Affairs Council in 2009 revealed that “Muslim communities have stepped forward to help law enforcement foil over 1 out of every 3 Al Qaeda-related terror plots threatening America since 9/11.”
These are sources anyone can verify that were available to anyone with internet access prior to King’s first hearing.
In the eight years since he first asserted the allegations of fundamentalist control of the Muslim community and non-cooperation with law enforcement, King has never pointed to an evidentiary source for the “80%, 85%” figure that objective observers can review.
Instead he cites a speech given at the U.S. Department of State in the late 1990s by Hisham Kabbani, a figure who is unknown to most U.S. Muslims.
One man’s opinion. Kabbani to this day has not produced his source for this allegation
1) After four hearings, King has failed in proving allegations against the American Muslim community is led by fundamentalists and does not cooperate with law enforcement. Evidence available prior to the first hearing, as well as five of the six law enforcement officers he brought to testify do not support these allegations.
Not a single witness attempted to factually validate the allegation of a Muslim community run by extremists. Zuhdi Jasser, the only witness to attempt to back King up on the allegation, gave a rambling response to the charge best summed up in the contradictory positions taken in these sentences: “It's a minority, but there's an ideology that exists in some mosques -- not all, not a majority -- but in some mosques. And it's a significant number.”
Five of the six law enforcement officers brought to testify at the hearings did not support King’s assertion that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement.
Chief Smith of Saint Paul, Minn. talked about “strong relationships” with Somali Muslims.
Sherriff Baca of Los Angeles described “strong bonds” with the American Muslim community.
LAPD Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau Commander Michael Downing said, “Los Angeles is known for its outreach and engagement with Muslim communities…”
Neither of the two U.S. attorneys who testified criticized Muslim leadership or mosques. Former U.S. attorney Kevin Smith did describe a Muslim community committed to the Constitution: “…in our outreach and engagement with Muslim communities, we recognize, and the Muslim communities recognize, that the law of the land is the Constitution. And that there may be sharia principles in their community that they look at, similar to Jewish laws, but the law of the land, the rule of law is the Constitution of the United States.”
Additionally, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs Paul Stockton said in his written testimony, “Muslim-Americans are important allies in the effort to counter violent extremism in the United States.” Speaking during the hearing, Stockton said, “And that is recognizing the tremendous contributions of Muslim Americans to national security and the armed forces in particular. We need Muslim Americans in the United States military.”
Evidence and public statements of senior law enforcement officials available prior to the hearings also contradicted King.
To date, King has neither retracted his unsubstantiated allegation nor sought to admit that he was wrong.
Instead, even as recently as January 2012, he continues to assert that Muslims somehow lack in their efforts to protect the homeland. In a January 12, 2012 statement on the House Homeland Security Committee’s web site King said, “The good citizen or citizens who reported [Florida terror suspect Sami] Osmakac to authorities deserve great credit for doing what too many leaders in the Muslim American community too often fail to do. I have long advocated for increased cooperation between Muslim leaders and law enforcement, so this development is a positive sign.”[xxxvi] (Emphasis is CAIR’s, given the evidence laid out in this document the information from Florida represents a pattern of constitutionally-informed cooperation and not a “development.”)
King’s rhetorical smearing of an entire faith community is not based in fact. He needs to explain how standing by the allegations serves domestic security.
2) Over the course of four hearings, King did prove what was already known: that a small number of individuals within the American Muslim community are susceptible to violent extremism.
Over the last year King has proven—perhaps unintentionally—what everyone already knew: a small number of individuals within the American Muslim community are susceptible to Al-Qaeda’s ideology. Given this lack of revelation, it is difficult to justify both the time and expense of these hearings to tax-payers and stigmatization of the American Muslim community.
American Muslims are aware that even a small fraction of violent extremists represent a threat to their nation.
Rather than joining Muslims and their representative organizations in expanding efforts to deny Al-Qaeda and its ideology any minute safe haven, King unapologetically continues casts suspicion on the entire community.
3) King’s record of leveling unsubstantiated allegations and biased attacks on the Muslim community and habit of naming people with records of anti-Muslim bias as potential witnesses and information sources denies him any current credibility in discussions about American Muslims and homeland security.
A sober and objective examination of terrorism and the threat of violent extremism is important. King’s penchant for spicy, self-serving sound bites makes for entertaining TV, but it belittles the subject.
CAIR asserts that Rep. King’s politically exploitive approach to the subject resulted in both broad-spectrum pushback against him and public disinterest in his hearings subsequent to the significant attention given to the first one.
Chairman King’s general response to criticism of his hearings was that political correctness needed to be put aside for the sake of examining this threat to the homeland. CAIR agrees. However, we also believe that King’s broad brush indictments of an entire religious minority can play no role in a serious examination of threats to our nation.
4) King’s committee is charged with helping better protect the homeland against terrorist attacks. Al-Qaeda and its allies remain the most significant terrorist threat to our nation, but other groups have carried out attacks. King’s decision to give these groups a free pass allows them a safer space to operate outside the light of his committee’s scrutiny.
Three Department of Defense witnesses agreed that threats to military communities emanate from multiple sources, not just violent extremists who claim to be acting in the name of Islam.
William Anders Folk, former Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, said that his professional experiences taught him that threats from multiple ideologies, “require the unwavering attention of law enforcement.” Chief Tom Smith of Police of Saint Paul, Minnesota also agreed about the need to be concerned about domestic-based terror from groups such as white extremists. Mr. Thomas Joscelyn, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, replied “certainly” to a question about Al-Shabaab attempting to recruit in communities other than among Muslims.
Appendix: Rep. King’s Questions to Witnesses During the First Four Hearings
The text below is taken directly from official hearing transcripts. During a congressional hearing, each committee member is allotted a short time to ask questions of the witnesses. The below questions were posed by King. They are provided so the reader can evaluate King’s efforts to validate his allegations against the American Muslim community during the hearings.
Hearing 1: The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response
KING: Dr. Jasser, thank you for your testimony. You listened to the testimony of Mr. Bledsoe and Mr. Bihi. I would ask you, do you see these as isolated cases? Or as a part of a -- or is it part of a
systemic problem in the Muslim American community? And if it is, how would that be impacted
as far as mosques, as far as CAIR, and as far as overseas funding?
KING: Thank you, Dr. Jasser. In my final seconds, Mr. Bledsoe, I was very moved by your testimony. In the lead-up to these hearings, this hearing was attacked by everybody from CAIR to Kim Kardashian to the New York Times as being such a dangerous moment that we were going to have here today. Why did you come to testify? What do you hope your testimony will bring about? And what is your opinion of this hearing?
Hearing 2: The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons
KING: Thank you very much, Professor, for your testimony. Mr. Dunleavy, you, in your testimony, talk about what appears to be the lack of proper vetting for chaplains in state prisons. And I know our staff has visited the maximum security prisons, and we have been impressed by steps taken at the federal level. But 97 percent of prisoners are in state and local prisons. And you gave the example of the imam, the chaplain, in a New York prison, who was arrested and convicted last year for smuggling razor blades into Ryker's Island. He had been certified as a chaplain by the Islamic Leadership Council, which actually is located right outside my district in Wyandanch. And I know it somewhat well, because the leaders are always picketing my office. But the fact is you had an organization such as that certifying a chaplain who is a convicted murderer, and yet he was certified to be a chaplain in the state prison system. Has that situation improved at all?
KING: But he was still serving in 2007?
KING: Professor Useem seemed to say that he does not believe the threat is that significant from the prisons. And yet, Chief Downing, you say it's a subject which (inaudible) great concern. It's an important phenomenon relating to the evolving threat of Muslim Americans radicalization in prisons, and prisons are in fact communities at risk. As the person who's on the ground, who has to deal with this issue every day, you consider it to be a serious issue?
KING: I'm not asking you to divulge any facts of ongoing investigations. But in your written statement you say there are several ongoing cases whose story is yet to be told. However, the common denominator in these cases is conversion to a radical form of Islam while in prison. So are you concerned about ongoing cases relating to Islamic terrorism?
KING: Mr. Smith, in the Kevin James case, it seems it was the perfect confluence of a radical form of religion, organized gang members and almost an assembly line of radicalization in the prison, going in post-prison to a mosque to recruit and radicalize more, and then attempting to carry out terrorist plots. Can you say what -- what makes -- is there anything unique about a religious radical as opposed to a gang member, a skinhead or a neo- Nazi?
Hearing 3: Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland
KING: Chief Smith, thank you for your testimony and your service. I will begin the round of questions. Mr. Hussen, let me begin with you, please. As you probably know, these hearings have been attacked as anti-Muslim bigoted, biased, racist - pick your terminology - that's come at us from all directions. You said in your testimony these hearings have actually empowered your community.
KING: If you could expand on that? And in the course of doing that, you also said that you believe the narrative has to be changed that goes to the Somali-American community to show that they should not be anti-Western. That in effect, they should work with the governments of Canada and the United States. I would ask you, first of all, to the extent these hearings have helped out, but even more importantly, do you find that the leadership in your community agrees with you? Has it changed? Has it gone for the better? If you could just basically tell us what the level of leadership is and how they react to what you're saying about the narrative of being pro-Western?
KING: If I could ask you, what is your relationship with CARE in Canada?
KING: Does CARE share your narrative?
KING: OK. If I could ask Mr. Folk, how would rate the severity of a possible attack on our homeland because of the linkup between al- Shabaab and AQAP?
KING: And we've heard various estimates of three dozen, four dozen, 40 in the United States, 20 in Canada, maybe more, who've gone over. If we know who's gone over, what's the threat about them coming back?
KING: Mr. Joscelyn, do you care to comment on the potential threat with al-Shabaab linking with AQAP?
KING: The time of the gentleman has expired. I would ask the Ranking Member to indulge me for a moment, and ask Mr. Folk if you want the opportunity. You were asked about your testimony. And did you consult with the Justice Department before your testimony? And did they put any restrictions on you?
Hearing 4: Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States
KING: Thank you, Colonel Sawyer. And also thank you for your prepared statement, which I read last night. It was really a treatise on terrorism. Thank you very much. Secretary Stockton, in your prepared testimony and also in an article you write entitled "Ten Years After 9/11: Challenges for the Decade to Come," you said, among things, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is actively recruiting U.S. military personnel to conduct lone actor attacks on U.S. military targets. How significant do you believe the threat is from within the military and how successful has Al Qaeda been at recruiting members of the American military?
KING: Secretary Stockton, we're in an open session, so I'm not going to ask for precise numbers, but are there cases within the military right now involving prospective jihadists and terrorists that you are aware of or monitoring?
KING: OK. Senator Lieberman, we were going to call it (ph) in closed session at the end of the second panel. OK. We'll reconvene in closed session. Thank you very much. Mr. Stuteville, as Senator Collins mentioned, during the 1990s when there were white supremacists attacks within the military, when there were right wing extremist attacks carried out within the military, the military made it clear that right wing extremists and white supremacists were the -- were those who carried out the attacks. And that -- those ideologies were identified. And yet it appears that the ideology of violent Islamic extremism is not identified by name, including in your most recent documents. So I would ask why does the Army now believe that it should not identify who the enemy is when it was particularly appropriate to identify the enemy 16, 17 years ago?
KING: Mr. Stuteville, if we're relying on behavioral analysis and ignoring a person's ideology, the fact is, as Senator Lieberman said, the enemy here is extreme violent Islam. A small minority, a tiny minority, but the fact is they're rowling (ph) toward Christianity or Judaism or atheism or Buddhism or Hinduism. The particular enemy today comes from a very violent form of Islam, just as in the 1990s there were white supremacists and there were skinheads and there were Klan members. And it seemed the military never hesitated in targeting that enemy and identifying that enemy. Yet it appears like, for instance, again, in this new Threat Awareness and Reporting Program, you know, yes, I'm not saying we go back to the Cold War, but the fact is white supremacists, that was not the Cold War. That was a particular virulent ideology that was I believe rightly and correctly and effectively attacked by the military. And it appears as if today we're being politically correct by not identifying who the target is. And I would say the same thing if we were talking about Irish Catholics who were carrying out attacks.
Identify them. Say who they are. I think we're sort of being too politically correct here. I find that very frustrating. Let me give you an opportunity to answer to that. And then also my final question, and then I'll be out of time, will be we've learned, the committee staff, that for instance in barracks that Inspire magazine is available to members of the Armed Forces. Now was that just as aberration? Is that policy? Because I know for instance people can't fly federal flags or Nazi flags in a barracks, and yet Inspire magazine is the propaganda organ of the enemy. And a number of us, including myself, have actually been named in that magazine by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. So I would ask you to answer the specific question regarding Inspire and also why this change in policy to go from naming someone -- naming an ideology to ignoring the ideology, or Secretary Stockton.
KING: But if it's reported, is a person allowed to keep it in the barracks? Is it just put up as one more indicator or is it removed?
Appendix: Hearing Witnesses
Names and identifiers taken from witness lists posted on the web site of the House Homeland Security Committee. CAIR underlined the names of former and current law enforcement officials. Because the fourth hearing was held jointly by House and Senate committees, the usual House method for witness selection did not apply. CAIR has identified witnesses selected by the minority party by noting this next to their names.
Of the eighteen witnesses to testify at the hearings, six were former or current law enforcement representatives. Of those six, two were asked to testify by the Democrats.
1. Hon. John D. Dingell, A Representative in Congress from the 15th District of Michigan
2. Hon. Keith Ellison, A Representative in Congress from the 5th District of Minnesota
3. Hon. Frank Wolf, A Representative in Congress from the 10th District of Virginia
4. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President and Founder, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
5. Mr. Abdirizak Bihi, Director, Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center
6. Mr. Melvin Bledsoe, Private Citizen
7. Sheriff Leroy Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (minority)
8. Mr. Patrick T. Dunleavy, Deputy Inspector General (Ret.), Criminal Intelligence Unit, New York State Department of Correctional Services
9. Mr. Kevin Smith, former Assistant United States Attorney, Central District of California
10. Mr. Michael P. Downing, Commanding Officer, Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, Los Angeles Police Department
11. Professor Bert Useem, Department Head and Professor, Sociology Department, Purdue University (minority)
12. Mr. Ahmed Hussen, Canadian Somali Congress National President
13. Mr. Thomas Joscelyn, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
14. Mr. William Anders Folk, Former Assistant United States Attorney, District of Minnesota
15. Mr. Tom Smith, Chief of Police, Saint Paul, Minnesota (minority)
16. The Honorable Paul N. Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs, Office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense
a. Stockton was accompanied by Mr. Jim Stuteville, United States Army Senior Advisor, Counterintelligence Operations and Liaison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation
17. Lieutenant Colonel Reid L. Sawyer, Director, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
18. Mr. Daris Long, Private Citizen
 In different interviews King substitutes other terms for “Islamic fundamentalists,” such as “Islamic radicals” or “radical imams.”
 In most House hearings, the majority party will choose most witnesses, with the minority party selecting usually only one witness. In this case, Jasser, Bledsoe and Bihi were the Republican-majority witnesses and Baca was selected by the Democrat-minority.
 In 2008, Bihi initially misled a police officer after a car crash but later made admissions that resulted in a driving while impaired conviction. In 2010, a warrant was sworn out for his arrest after he failed to enroll in a required safe driving course.
 Following a legal challenge to the anti-Muslim Oklahoma amendment, both the federal district court and the Tenth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals held that it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
 For evidence that refutes King’s assertion, that “fundamentalists” control most American mosques and “Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement” see the end of this document.
For footnote 1 see for example “radical Imams” at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/king-unsure-if-claim-that-80-percent-of-us-mosques-run-by-radical-imans-is-correct/2011/03/09/ABfpMzP_blog.html
[i] House Homeland Security Committee. “About”
Available at: http://homeland.house.gov/about/history-jurisdiction
[ii] Editorial Board. “Politically Incorrect, but King is Right,” New York Daily News, March 29, 2004.
[iii]Larry Cohler-Esses and Nathan Guttman.“Lawmaker plans controversial hearings on Islamic threat,” Forward, December 28, 2010.
[iv] Peter King. “What’s Radicalizing Muslim Americans?” Newsday, December 19, 2010.
[v] Stephen Clark. “King Rebuffs Pleas to Broaden House Hearings on Threat of Radical Islam,” Fox News, February 8, 2011.
[vi] Editorial Board. “Politically Incorrect, but King is Right,” New York Daily News, March 29, 2004.
[vii]Larry Cohler-Esses and Nathan Guttman.“Lawmaker plans controversial hearings on Islamic threat,” Forward, December 28, 2010.
[viii] Daniel W. Reilly. “Rep. Peter King: There are ‘too many mosques in this country,’ Politico, September 19, 2007.
[ix] Peter King. “What’s Radicalizing Muslim Americans?” Newsday, December 19, 2010.
[x] Peter King interview on Secure Freedom Radio With Frank Gaffney, January 6, 2011.
[xi] Letter from Rep. Bennie Thompson to Rep. Peter king, February 1, 2011.
[xii] Jordy Yager. “Thompson: No need for hearing on radical Islam in US prisons,” The Hill, June 15, 2011.
[xiii] Rep. Mike Honda. “Muslim hearings recall my life in internment camp,” CNN.com, June 15, 2011.
[xiv] Letter can be viewed in full at: http://www.muslimadvocates.org/Coalition%20Ltr%20re%20King%20hearings%2C%202-1-11.pdf
[xvi] Letter can be viewed in full at: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech-national-security/aclu-and-broad-coalition-tell-rep-king-concerns-about-muslim-radicaliz
[xviii] Keith Ellison, “Testimony: The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Reponse,” Fox News Transcript, 10 March 2011, http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/news/politics/keith-ellison-testimony-transcript-mar-10-2011.
[xx] “Jewish Dems blast GOP for singling out Muslims,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 15, 2011.
[xxi] David Hanners. “Domestic terrorism hearing witness from Minneapolis has had a troubled past,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 10, 2011.
[xxii] Laura Yuen. “Minnesota Muslim leaders skeptical and disappointed after radicalization hearing,” Minnesota Public Radio, March 11, 2011.
[xxiii] Alina Dain Sharon. “Speaking Candidly About Islam,” JointMedia News Service, December 5, 2011.
[xxiv] M. Zuhdi Jasser. “Which Islam? Whose Islam? All Muslims Own Interpretation of the Koran,” Family Security Matters, September 12, 2007.
Available at: http://www.fsmarchives.org/article.php?id=1324805
[xxv] Laurie Goodstein. “Muslims to be congressional hearings main focus,” New York Times, February 7, 2011.
[xxvi] American Islamic Forum for Democracy. “American Muslim organization applauds Oklahoma anti-shariah law,” AIFD press release, November 5, 2010.
[xxvii] Jerome Bejelopera and Mark Randol. “American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat,” Congressional Research Service, December 7, 2010. The report was updated November 15, 2011.
[xxviii] Meredith Shiner. “Circus skips Muslim radicals hearing,” Politico, June 15, 2011.
[xxix] Laura Yuen. “Minneapolis mosque assault points to fringe element some say,” Minnesota Public Radio, July 21, 2011.
[xxxi] Star Tribune Editorial Board. “Terror hearings fuel anti-Muslim fears,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 25, 2011.
[xxxii] R.T. Ryback, Mayor Rybak: Minneapolis Is Proud Home to Complex Somali Community with Many American Success Stories, Official Statement, July 27, 2011.
[xxxiii] Rubén Rosario. “On day one of King's circus, three Minnesotans take center stage,” St. Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota), March 10, 2011.
[xxxiv] Peter King interview on Secure Freedom Radio With Frank Gaffney, January 6, 2011.
[xxxv] “Measuring the homegrown terrorist threat to U.S. military,” CNN, December 7, 2011.
[xxxvi] “Chairman King Statement on Recent Terror Arrests in Maryland and Florida,” House Homeland Security Committee, January 12, 2012.