Today, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman began his “personal quest” to scrutinize the patriotism of American Muslims through his hearings on the radicalization in the U.S. Muslim community. King insists that his pursuit is “the logical response” to the “threat level” posed by the community, adding “it makes no sense to talk about other types of extremism, when the main threat to the United States today is talking about al Qaida.”
Not only are King’s assumptions incredibly inaccurate, a former Department of Defense official in the Bush Administration states that his crusade is helping homegrown terrorism. Jennifer Bryson, who spent a few years doing counter-terrorism work while working for the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2003 to 2008, pointed out that King’s fear-mongering is “dividing the world between Muslims and non-Muslims,” the “same tactic” used by Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda to recruit:
“King risks helping to promote precisely the narrative Osama bin Laden and his sympathizers try to promote, namely dividing the world between Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Jennifer Bryson, a former counterterrorism official at the Defense Department. Al-Qaeda has used the same tactic as a recruiting tool, she said.
While the issue merits attention by Congress, said Matthew Levitt, former deputy chief of the Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, King’s approach is “semantically shaped to point a finger at an entire community.”
Matthew Levitt served as the Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis under the Bush Administration. The American Muslim community’s practices and participation in mainstream society has not only served to successfully combat homegrown terrorism but to help eliminate the risk. For instance, the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out that families of the “Northern Virginia Five” extremists reached out to CAIR — the group that King paints as extremist — who then alerted the FBI, “cooperation” that “has proved vital in facilitating authorities’ initial investigation of the plot.”
Even the U.S. attorney general in a New York district not far from Ground Zero is “disturbed” by King’s hearings. He told the Daily Beast’s Jonathan Alter that the Muslim community there “routinely provide the FBI and prosecutors with valuable leads and evidence” but that now he must “spend valuable time reassuring local imams” who “are terribly worried about the stigma coming from King’s hearings” that the “U.S. government means them not harm.”
As Bryson indicates, by aggressively marginalizing Muslims in America, King actively complicates the vibrant cooperation between the Muslim community and law enforcement and disseminates stereotypes that foment the us-vs.-them mentality feeding homegrown terrorism in the first place. Doing so not only emboldens the small extremist minority within a community but tramples on the patriotism and humanity of the majority.