Representative Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will hold his third anti-Muslim hearing this morning. Or, as he frames it, his “third Muslim radicalization hearing.”
This third hearing titled, “Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland,” explicitly targets Somali Americans in this country especially those in the Midwest in Minnesota and Ohio. Rep. King is convinced that they are susceptible to recruitment, radicalization and training from this organization that allegedly has ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
If this hearing were to be conducted in any other setting, like some place not on Capitol Hill, this would have the potential to be a riveting hearing. The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill recently reported on CIA secret prison sites in Somalia. He mentioned Al Shabaab and how they didn’t used to be such a force in the region. It sure seems like US support for renditions and torture in the region might be giving Al Shabaab a boost in its ability to recruit and conduct operations. But, don’t expect any representatives from the CIA or any task force in the region to testify on how operations might be radicalizing Muslims.
If this hearing wasn’t being held by Rep. Peter King, who appears to be this generation’s Joseph McCarthy, someone with the FBI might be asked to come before the committee and testify on entrapment schemes that are being engineered in Muslim communities. Somali-born teenager Mohamed Osman Mohamud, accused of trying to detonate a bomb in Portland, Oregon, at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, was set up by FBI agents in a sting operation to commit the attack. This sort of thing can’t possibly help efforts to curb whatever sort of radicalization might be happening in this country.
At 10 am ET, FDL’s The Dissenter will be live blogging this hearing. The hearing’s witnesses include: Mr. Ahmed Hussen, Canadian Somali Congress National President; Mr. Thomas Joscelyn, Senior Fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Mr. William Anders Folk, Former Assistant United States Attorney of the District of Minnesota; and Mr. Tom Smith, Chief of Police of St Paul, Minnesota.
To watch the hearing stream live, go here.
12:23 AM Rep. King concludes hearing. It is adjourned. But, not before King makes clear one more time that there is only one threat that has killed 3,000 people. (Can you guess what that is? Nope, not America in Iraq or some other country.)
12:20 AM Rep. Thompson says we have testimony in the record that gang members in prison have offered severe threats and terrorists are in prisons. And I think the point is there are a lot of bad people in this country. Some are Baptist and some are atheist.
12:18 AM Rep. King goes on big rant as a result of Green. He is infuriated. Thumps all over this guest and says he will no longer extend courtesies after cutting off his remarks, etc.
He find it important to make sure nobody thinke that there was someone in this hearing who thinks terrorism is linked to person’s race or gender or height in this hearing if they were watching this committee.
12:14 AM Rep. Green says to be quite candid I do not expect it to make sense to you. I’m going along with my line of questioning because I agree. I don’t think we want all Muslims to be painted with same brush. I agree that they should not all monitored. If it causes you some degree of discomfort to make it clear that there are people who look like people we don’t typically call terrorists, then I have to continue my line of questioning.
Rep. Green establishes that not all terrorists are Muslims. It’s important to show world we are not all condemning Muslims.
12:12 AM Rep. King says you are laying a line of questioning here that has no basis. It’s an interesting line but is not based on anything said by this committee
12:10 AM Rep. Al Green now speaking and makes the point that nobody came here to today to vilify Muslims. He asks the committee. They agree. He asks if it would be good to conclude that all Somalis are people to be watched. A panelist says no.
Green makes a point about Jihad Jane. He asks about her hair, her complexion, etc. Rep. King doesn’t like.
12:06 AM Rep. Danny Davis is now talking and says he just happened to be reading the Bible and it said if you would put an end to oppression than you would be known as the person who built the walls on a new foundation (paraphrasing this Bible quote). Davis finds that the communities discussed here don’t have particular feelings of animosity toward US but do want to discuss seriously state of the world.
Rep. Davis asks a deep question about addressing these communities and Hussen says justice can undercut ideologies of radicalization. You have to come from point of view that justice is important to Islam.
Folk says FBI and US attorneys office in Minneapolis have made concerted push to find out at street level what is happening in the community. “You cannot prosecute your way out of a problem.” If we have ever sent a message that people are being prosecuted because of God they worship, we fail.
Joscelyn says Muslims in Somalia are biggest victim in Somalia. Shabaab does not represent all of Muslims. That’s the common bond — your enemies are our enemies.
Smith says the answer is continued dialogue and listening.
12:04 AM Rep. Thompson makes it clear that Hussen is not speaking on behalf of Canadian government or any agency so allegations about Iran are dubious.
12:01 AM Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Baptist, talks about discussing greatness of America in his church and he would hope there would be discussion of America’s greatness by imams in mosques. Duncan says this country was founded on Christian principles but he understands Islamic people enjoy religious freedom and should appreciate that.
Duncan lists off concerns about Shabaab and now would like to know if Shabaab has connection to Iran. Hussen says that Iranians in recent years have been arming al Shabaab because they wanted to harm transitional government in Somalia that is an ally of the US.
Duncan ask Mr. Hussen (says Hussain) about threat of people going outside Africa to pose a threat. Hussen thinks they have aspirations that go beyond Africa which is why they are recruiting Westerners.
11:59 AM Rep. King would say there is only one group that has killed 3,000 Americans.
11:56 AM Rep. King says we have people in the media denying that these hearings have value. Now, again Hussen, my token Muslim witness for this hearing, has said he is empowered. He says there is no equivalency between the groups “your side” is talking about Rep. Richmond and the vast network of Al Qaeda.
Rep. Richmond says it is abundantly clear now that all of our youth are targeted for radicalization. There is someone no matter your color being targeted. And to combat that we need funding. At some point, we know the problem. All youth are at risk and we know community engagement an answer. I would like to get to point where we discuss funding for communities to protect from attacks.
Purpose of comment was to say “point made.” Let’s move on — Start focus on the answer
11:54 AM ET Rep. Cedric Richmond now speaking provides a recap of the previous hearings, noting all the witnesses that have been involved. He summarizes that community outreach and engagement has been found to be radical. He says whether it’s radicalization in prisons or “radicalization at Bingo” we need to make sure all Americans are integrated and law enforcement gets resources.
11:49 AM ET Rep. Clarke addresses the issue of no member of the intelligence community being on the witness panel. Rep. King rebuts that the committee held a series of intelligence briefings and meetings that was made available to staff. And, again, the token Muslim has said we are empowering people.
Rep. Clarke questions Hussen’s relationship to the Somali American community and why he is allowed to speak on behalf of the Muslim community.
Rep. Ellison was given an opportunity to speak at a previous hearing. King says he had his opportunity.
Clarke says she is sharing her opinion that we have fixated on one community.
11:45 AM ET Rep. Yvette D. Clarke is disappointed that Rep. Keith Ellison was denied his request to address this hearing. Jackson-Lee is right—radicalization is cross-cultural, cross-religion. She wants to discourage us from ostracizing and stigmatizing communities. This is a nation of diversity. For us to focus in and say Muslim Americans are specific threat when I can talk about gangs are a threat, that is a problem, she argues.
11:42 AM ET Rep. King gives Folk a chance to defend his professional integrity. Folk has not been guided by DoJ. This is a dig against Rep. Richardson for making a point.
11:39 AM ET Rep. McCaul is mystified at the controversy raised by this hearing. He points out that there is unanimous agreement in this committee that youth pose a threat to the community. (But, let me just say he may not have gotten a response because that would violate rules of order in the committee hearing.)
Joscelyn says we don’t know how big a threat but… He goes on to talk about Uganda bombing and how the DoJ came out with a plea deal with recruiters from Shabaab.
Al Qaeda/Al Shabaab connection does pose a threat to the United States. And Joscelyn says that is absolutely right. He cites Abdulmutallab again.
McCaul now mentions Al-Awlaki and how he is radicalizing youth over the Internet.
McCaul wants to know how we track radicalized people and prevent their return to US. Joscelyn says the problem is it is tough to say who can get a false passport. He thinks good work is being done but can’t make any conclusion.
Hussen said we should note how Somali Americans are fighting Shabaab. “Most effective weapon is moderate Muslim against the radical.”
11:35 AM ET Rep. Laura Richardson agrees Al Shabaab needs scrutiny but says that no federal official has been secured to legitimize the discussion that there should be a limited scope and only investigations into Muslim Americans. She says the limited scope is insufficient and discriminatory.
She wants to know if Folk is here under direction from any agency. He is not. She asks if FBI, CIA, or DHS give him authority to submit comments. He says no ma’am.
Other people besides Somalis have gone to fight with Shabaab, Richardson establishes.
Joscelyn agrees that other groups are being radicalized by Shabaab besides just Somalis.
11:30 AM ET Congressman asks about reasonably addressing this threat after describing how he has a connection to the Uganda-Kampala attack. As of 2008 since Al Shabaab was designated a terror organization, the problem has increased, Folk said.
Congressman asks why in general there has been a downplaying of the threat from Shabaab, AQAP, etc. Folk says the reality is we do not know what terrorist groups are capable of doing moving forward. We don’t know when they will “cross the line from aspiration to operation.” The underwear bomber — “that cannot be predicted.” We have to admit aspirational groups could become operational.
Congressman says this adds to my concern about downplaying threats. He thanks Hussen for working in his community with Muslims who don’t want this threat.
11:27 AM ET Rep. Jackson-Lee says this may provide information but it may isolate. If you want to know, this is the worst time for this hearing. The people we are going after are people who have fled famine in their country. Rep. King will not tolerate any more of this and cuts her off as time expires.
11:22 AM ET Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee is now submitting a request for a hearing on News Corp’s alleged phone hacking of 9/11 victims. Jackson-Lee adds that she would like to hold a hearing on right-wing extremism and ideologues. She submits into the record evidence of white supremacist violence in the US. She says she has a list 38-pages long of US hate groups and that is submitted into the record.
She says it is critical to approach these issues in a fair manner and tells Rep. King that the next step should be a briefing with CIA, FBI, JTTF and the NCTC — She is concerned about how this hearing isolates groups. Rep. Jackson-Lee asks Hussen if he understands why we must look at this threat broadly. He says yes that is important.
Jackson-Lee says the good thing about AIMCOP is imams in the community have responded. So she says isn’t it simply fair that we would take a broad-based look at threats.
11:19 AM ET Smith says the AIMCOP program has benchmarks. He says trust is so critical to stopping a young man or woman from becoming radicalized.
11:17 AM ET Rep. Peter King would just like to make clear again that the token Muslim on the panel has been empowered by this hearing. So, take that left wing media
11:13 AM ET Rep. Linda Sanchez now asks Smith about whether this hearing has had an impact on cooperation in the community. He says hearings has not had impact on cooperation with mosque leaders.
Sanchez says that she understands police officers have bought T-shirts and worked with community youth.
Sanchez now taking this in a direction and asking about policing grants and whether they should be cut. She says unfortunately when we had a vote in the House last time, approval of the police grants measure barely passed. She asks Smith to comment and asks if other law enforcement from around the country has consulted him.
Smith says many chiefs of police have contacted his staff to talk to him. On the cops program, it helps us to hire officer in fiscally constrained times. It allows for AIMCOP and that is why I am here. It is important. We started work with community policing. We saw a problem and we worked with Somali elders to address the youth.
Sanchez now asks Smith about the CAIR organization. Sanchez says some on this committee have been told not to get an attorney when talking with officers. Depending on the situation, Smith says that they should get to exercise their constitutional rights. (Note the “depending.”)
11:10 AM ET Rep. Lungren asks Folk to address the criticism that this hearing is hyping a threat. He says that Al Shabaab has recruited men and high level of indictments reflect a threat. He doesn’t think it is appropriate that since there is a low level of people that have left the US there is a small threat. This number that has left is too many.
11:o7 AM ET Rep. Dan Lungren asking Hussen about if there are characteristics in the Somali community that Al Shabaab utilize as entry into youth experience and mentality? Is there something that is different than dealing with regular gang settings?
Hussen says entry point is lack of integration. Radicals will say you went to university, stayed out of trouble but you will never get a job.
[*Here’s a question: Why is Hussen on this witness panel? Why isn’t someone who has benefited from this AIMCOP program testifying? Why isn’t an American Muslim testifying? Is it Peter King? Has he alienated these communities? Is this why we are getting testimony on Muslim or Somali experiences from a Canadian Somali Muslim?]
11:02 AM ET Federal grant money has helped fund AIMCOP, says Smith. He is grateful for the critical funds that make outreach programs possible.
Hussen is asked by Rep. Thompson if Canadian government is proactive in community outreach and he says yes and this has led to detection and arrest of people going to fight in Shabaab.
Canadian officials provide money for programs and they work but the government is not doing outreach to address the narrative that leads to radicalization. They are not failing but are partially successful–too much focus on enforcement.
Rep. Thompson—Canadian government not doing what they should be doing? Rep. Thompson is badgering this witness.
11:01 AM ET Rep. Thompson now asking if community engagement with the immigrant community is integral to addressing the threat in the community.
Chief of Police Smith says that they have largest Hmong population. They have large population of people from Burma and Somalis. There are many examples where outreach have come forward with information to keep community safe and the country safe.
It is important to have these communities of trust — We are boots on the ground, first line of defense.
10:59 AM ET Joscelyn addresses the question of Shabaab attacking American interests.
10:57 AM ET Rep. King now talking to Folk about threat from Al Shabaab and he is saying that people going into Somalia are a “black box” — no way to track them. He says the reality is in best-case scenario, even when one’s own family might report them to US agencies, we miss them. He talks about them being a threat to the US as they are anti-US and intent on carrying out attacks on innocents.
10:55 AM ET Rep. King asks first question noting these hearings have been attacked for being anti-Muslim. He wants Hussen to talk about how these hearings have helped someone like Hussen.
Hussen says Islam is compatible with democratic values.
Rep. King wants to know about his relationship to CAIR in Canada. He says CAIR does not share his narrative and they do not work together.
10:51 AM ET US Ambassador to Denmark recently visited the Twin Cities. He has had visits to the UK.
He sees a future of partnerships that will build upon trust that AIMCOP has built up in the community.
Imagine a police officer called to the housing complex to deal with a youth problem happens to be a coach. What if those elders also visit my office? These connections help to address problem of radicalization.
Three core principles: Keep the peace, promote public safety and enforce the law — This involves AIMCOP program and it works.
10:49 AM ET Smith is talking about how this outreach program is turning families or children into people who will speak to the outreach program officers about concerns they have about radicalization. It also allows for information on sex trafficking of girls or women to be provided to the officers.
[Smith’s description seems like a good way of getting informants to provide details to law enforcement. It seems like depending on how it is used it could be good and bad.]
10:47 AM ET Smith describes meeting with the Somali advisory council to talk about concerns in the community. He talks about officers becoming a part of this initiative to work with Somali youth. He says police athletic league has Somali youth that play sports. Safe, diverse opportunities for youth create trust, cooperation and mentorship making it harder for Shabaab to recruit.
Women and girls were underrepresented in initial programs and now they are being targeted. AIMCOP now has women having women become part of programs.
This has expanded the police force’s understanding of the Somali community and to combat threat of radicalization we have to think beyond law enforcement strategies.
10:46 AM ET Police chief Tom Smith in St. Paul now talking about going after Shabaab. He describes an outreach program—African, Immigrant, Muslim Community Outreach Program (AIMCOP) to the Somali community. He says about 20 Muslim men in Twin Cities area have been lured to go fight in a terror war in Somalia.
His police department is committed to fighting alcohol abuse, drug abuse, etc and now the radicalization of Somali youth. He said constructive messages could be just as powerful as statements by Al Shabaab.
10:43 AM ET Joscelyn thinks Somali American families have been victimized of Shabaab. He thinks Somali Americans and Canadians have pushed back. Shabaab is a threat to Muslims around the globe, he concludes.
10:40 AM ET Joscelyn now speaking. He says he has been following Shabaab since 2006 and it is a threat to homeland. He says most terrorism is focused on Muslims—victimization. He says prior to December 2009 when the underwear bomber acted there was a focus on Yemen but there was no focus on the possibility of AQAP carrying out attacks on the homeland.
Add up all the dots and it is clear Shabaab could attack. He is talking about a leader who says Shabaab has received training in al Qaeda camps.
Joscelyn has a list of leaders who are dual Shabaab and al Qaeda leaders. He says several of them were responsible for US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. As with most attacks, they kill more Muslims than anyone else.
It is true Shabaab evolved out of inter-clan warfare. They have turned this into an ideological battle. They found Muslims not willing to work with them and decimated them and terrorized anyone that wouldn’t cooperate.
Joscelyn is explicitly focused on how Shabaab has gone after Muslims.
10:38 AM ET Folk now mentions Al Shabaab recruiting videos. He mentions one date — October 29, 2008 — as one way to learn about Al Shabaab. An attack occurred on that day by someone with al Shabaab. He talks about how that led to spike in recruitment from US in November.
Folk says we must show interest in Somali community is not limited to putting names on indictments.
10:36 AM ET Folk is now giving remarks. He talks about experience as a Marine and how he has learned al Shabaab is capable of acts of violence and require attention of law enforcement. He describes talking to some students and he says that one’s background and religious views should never lead to guilty by association. He adds that we should learn about the inner workings and the different people who do work for al Shabaab.
He talks about how citizens from Minnesota have been recruited for terror activities. They also stone young teenagers in Somalia and cut off hands and feet for punishment.
10:32 AM ET Hussen continues and says there is a connection between Somali communities in Minnesota and those in Canada that needs to be examined. He also says it is disturbing that those who fled the civil war are returning to Somalia to further contribute to the country’s misery.
The role that we believe Canadian and US governments should play is to support leaders encouraging integration and commitment to rule of law/Constitution. And shun those who are promoting extremism in our midst.
These hearings remove stigma in our communities. Al Shabaab — the anti-Western messaging is not comparable to Islam and not in best interest of our community.
10:27 AM ET Hussen says he is a Canadian Muslim proud of faith and heritage and he believes faith, liberty, democracy, rule of law and respect for minorities do complement tenets of his faith. He says countries like US and Somalia that guarantee religious freedom make it possible for him to practice his faith.
Somalis in Canada experience poverty and there are many young males in the community that drop out of school and they become vulnerable to anti-Western ideology and vulnerable to narrative of hating countries that have welcome their parents and provided refuge.
Canadian Somali Congress have tried to provide jobs and integrate these youth into larger community so there is less opportunity for vulnerability to radicalization.
He says dozens left the community to go fight with Al Shabaab and were discovered recently. Recruiters are turning their attention to young women.
10:24 AM ET Hussen is now giving opening remarks.
10:22 AM ET Rep. Peter King says he would hold hearings on other groups if there was intelligence on other groups. So, produce intelligence on right wing groups of the kind that hate Muslims and we might get a hearing?
10:20 AM ET Rep. Bennie G. Thompson now giving opening statement says that we cannot ignore humanitarian disaster going on in Somalia. We must understand that since 1981 there has not been a stable government. It has been ruled by family groups and clans. He says that Al Shabaab does not present a threat to homeland.
Rep. Thompson now describes requesting an expansion of focus in these hearings. He mentions Norway and how a domestic terrorist fueled by ideology shot children at point blank rage at a summer camp. He says this lone wolf extremist killed 80 people in his anti-Islamic fervor. He says this makes it plain that madness of terrorism cannot be confined to any one religion, one nation or one people.
He says we need to examine threat of lone wolves in our midst.
10:17 AM ET NY Times is exploiting the Norway attack to move me to admit that there is equivalency between a deranged gunman and the apparatus of the Al Qaeda. He says he will not back down from holding this hearing. He will not bow down to left wing liberal ideological media that use equivalencies. He lost people on September 11th and must go zealously after Muslims.
10:14 AM ET King heavily exploits the Somali community of Minnesota today to make his case for radicalization.
10:13 AM ET King describes the enormous amount of travel between US cities and Somalia. He says Shahzad (Times Square bomber) or someone like Abdulmutallab (underwear bomber) might try to attack here.
King now sites Warsame who was charged with providing material support. He adds that Al Shabaab has provided support to AQAP. And he says Al Shabaab bombing in Uganda killed one American.
10:11 AM ET King says that Somalia is now more attractive than Iran or Afghanistan. I don’t know how one finds proof for that.
10:10 AM ET King says some argue Al Shabaab is only a Somali threat. But, that is pre-9/11 thinking. Rep. King says that 40 Americans and 20 Canadians have been drawn to jihad by Al Shabaab.
10:00 AM ET Rep King opens the hearing. His opening remarks are probably very similar to this posted statement.