The Pentagon’s official investigation of Nidal Hassan and the Fort Hood massacre never mentions his radicalized beliefs — the very thing that drove him to kill 14 people. Why would investigators hide his motives when he never tried to, even yelling “Allahu Akbar” before shooting?
That same organized effort to censor reared its head at Rep. Peter King’s (R-New York) hearing March 10 on the radicalization of American Muslims. “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and the Community’s Response” is a valid topic to investigate. Especially considering the witness list: two fathers (one Muslim) whose son and nephew stand accused of terrorism, radicalized through American mosques, and a Muslim leader who has worked tirelessly to counter the radicalization he’s seen in Muslim communities.
These are first-hand accounts of the roots of homegrown terrorists.
Yet the congressional hearing was labeled a “witch hunt”. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) said it could inspire a “new generation” terrorists. Jackie Speier (D-California) said merely holding the hearing had the potential to make America less safe.
Rep. King revealed that he’s been under police protection for months. Bomb-sniffing dogs combed the outside of the building before the hearing.
All this is good evidence that well-founded fears exist — among Republicans and Democrats, those who want to investigate and those who want to shut down discussion — of radicalized Muslims.
Jackie Speier accused the witnesses of not being qualified to testify, because they aren’t “experts” or religious leaders. It was a chilling attempt to silence people who not only have experienced the radicalization within American mosques, but who risk their lives to combat it.
As I sat in the overflow room, numerous people — some who had sneered at the testimony of the fathers — laughed and applauded.
But the witnesses would not be intimidated. Melvin Bledsoe, whose son is accused of killing a soldier at an Arkansas military recruiting center, shot back, questioning what qualified Speier herself to be on the Homeland Security Committee.
Abdirizak Bihi testified how poor Somali immigrants relied on the local mosque where a number of young people, including his nephew, were recruited to the militant Islamist group Al-Shabab. His testimony provided valuable insight, and the steps his community has taken to rescue Somalis from the grip and threat of the mosque leaders.
He confessed, “We the families in the Somali American community sought a refuge for our children in the Abubakr center from the bad influences that lead to bad choices on the streets of our neighborhoods. We never thought we could be hurt by the very institution that we trusted with our children.
The young men “all were from single mom households and all of the recruited young men belonged to one center. . We would never have guessed that our kids had been brainwashed already and recruited to fight for al-Shabaab in a jihadist war which was killing other innocent Muslim Somalis thousands of miles away.
“We were awaiting help from the mosque leadership, but we heard something that was unimaginable – a feeling which was even worse than when the kids disappeared. Suddenly, in a matter of days, the mosque leadership transformed us from victims of radicalization into pariahs of the community.”
The families begged neighbors to give information to the FBI to find their missing sons. Then the Council for America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) stepped in, telling the community not to cooperate with law enforcement. The families held three demonstrations against CAIR to get them to leave and stop speaking for them.
No mosque or Muslim leader has apologized for destroying the boys’ lives.
Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, testified that only a minority of Muslims belong to groups like CAIR. CAIR claims to speak for Muslims and is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Yet some in law enforcement think that community outreach is the solution, while ignoring the ideology, he charged.
Mr. Bledsoe worried that Islamists can recruit when people deny there is a problem. “We’re worried about stepping on their toes, and they want to stomp us.”
A week before the hearing, 56 Democratic congressmen asked Rep. King to cancel the hearing, claiming it would stigmatize Muslims. Nine more said that other extremists deserve scrutiny.
King responded that he “will not allow political correctness to obscure a real and dangerous threat to the safety and security of the citizens of the United States.”
Rank and file Muslims, like many of our neighbors, moved from their homelands to escape jihadists and the imposition of Sharia law, such as the blasphemy laws that caused the assassination of Shahbat Bhatti, a Christian government official in Pakistan.
However, radical Muslims, committed to destroying the country we know, are influencing and indoctrinating others to commit jihad against Americans. Our military has taken the brunt of this, being targeted and killed overseas and on America’s soil.
Self-censorship accomplishes the goal of the blasphemy law, which forbids insults against Mohammed or Islam. But it comes at a high price.
We cannot protect ourselves against America’s jihadist enemies if we can’t mention them or their beliefs. Yet many government officials, charged with fighting terrorism, refuse to recognize the common element – the ideology — behind many of the worst terrorist attacks in the last two decades.
For all of our sakes, including our Muslim neighbors some who have helped investigators — government officials need to take off their blinders and recognize the dangerous link between Major Nidal Hassan and other jihadists who plot our destruction.