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Rep. Peter King's Hearing on American Muslims: How Radical? How Dangerous?

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Rep. Peter King's controversial hearing today examining the threat of radical Islam will feature two men whose family members became caught up in violent extremism, with tragic consequences.

A glimpse of the hearing emerged Wednesday as critics implored the New York Republican to scrap the session or broaden its focus. But King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, defended his approach even as he faced threats as well as questions about his own past as a supporter of the anti-British Irish Republican Army.

On Wednesday, a group of more than 50 Democrats, including the two Muslims serving in the House, wrote to King, asking him to cancel the hearing or examine religions in addition to Islam.

"Singling out one religious group and blaming the actions of individuals on an entire community is not only unfair, it is unwise -- and it will not make our country any safer," the lawmakers said.

The National Jewish Democratic Council warned the hearing would be detrimental to religious tolerance in America.

But King vowed to press on, blitzing cable television airwaves and taking to the Internet to defend the hearing, titled "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response."

"There have been numerous protests and newspaper articles demonizing these hearings," he wrote in an e-mail. "But I wanted to let you know that I will not back down to the hysteria created by my opponents and will continue with the hearings."

King's plans for the session include witnesses who will give a range of opinions, both about the role of Muslim-Americans in the United States and the dangers posed by a homegrown Islamic terrorism.

Melvin Bledsoe will tell the committee about his son, Carlos Bledsoe, who converted to Islam and later fired on a military recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark., in 2009, killing one soldier.

"Carlos was captured by people best described as hunters. He was manipulated and lied to," Bledsoe says in his prepared remarks, which were obtained in advance by the AP. He will also testify that people he calls Islamic radicals "programmed and trained my son Carlos to kill."

A second witness, Abdirizak Bihi, will testify about his teenage nephew, who left his family in Minneapolis to train with Al Shababb, an al-Qaeda-inspired militant group in Somalia. Bihi's brother-in-law told the family's story to the Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2009. Osman Ahmed said the nephew had been "mentally and physically kidnapped" by radicalized Islamist and convinced to go to Somalia to fight alongside insurgent forces. He has not been seen since.

In addition to the private citizens, three congressmen will testify.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) is a veteran lawmaker whose Dearborn, Mich., district is home to one of the largest Arab-American populations in the United States. Last week, Dingell asked King to change the focus of Thursday's hearing. "Muslim Americans are an integral part of our larger society and should be treated as such, not viewed with suspicion," he wrote.

In contrast, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is one of the members of Congress who shares King's fears of the infiltration into the United States of radical Islam, according to a senior congressional staffer who specializes in homeland security issues.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is expected to offer a strong defense of the Muslim-American community. Ellison is one of two Muslims serving in Congress and represents the Minnesota district with the largest Somali-American population in the country. He's accused King of being "McCarthyistic."

"I do think that Congressman King is a man who wants to see our country safer. I think he's going about it the wrong way," Ellison told CBS News. "To say we're talking about radicalization of the Muslim community widely is the very essence of scapegoating."

The last two witnesses, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser and Los Angeles Sheriff Leroy Baca, will give opposing views of the radicalization threat. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, is a frequent guest on Fox News Channel and has appeared on Glenn Beck's program. "He's a favorite of folks on the right," a congressional staffer said.

Baca, who commands the largest sheriff's department in the country, was invited by Democrats on the panel. A committee staffer told Politics Daily that Baca has initiated a Muslim community affairs unit within the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and has testified to the committee on matters in the past, "including how helpful the Muslim community has been."

King is planning to continue the committee's focus on the issue of radical Islam, but has not yet scheduled the committee's next session.

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242 Comments

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Sally

You all should read the al quida manual I found on our own border patrol site. It states very clearly their own agenda to infiltrate our government secretly. Becoming our own Reps, and changing our laws.
This man is right to address this early, before its too late. He knows the enemy, do you really know them?

March 21 2011 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jerry

Let's be blunt. Muslim radicals -- more accurately called Islamo-Fascists -- are a fifth column. Their longterm goal is to undermine our government and society by imposing Sharia, Islamic law, on the country. It may seem like a monumental task, but little by little they are making progress.

In several Western countries, e.g., Britain, Muslims have introduced Sharia family law to resolve disputes. Although Sharia there does not carry any official weight, 20 years from now governments may yield to pressure to give Sharia official sanction.

However, political correctness -- taken to its extremes by the international leftist set -- poses the greatest danger. PC is the modern-day equivalent of appeasement. The leftists will urge Western governments to placate the Muslim community by officially recognizing Sharia. Well, that's the beginning of the end.

When Tony Blair asserted that Islam is a religion of peace, he was following in the footsteps of a predecessor, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1937-1940). We know how disastrous Chamberlian's appeasement policies turned out. Are we going to repeat the same mistakes with political correctness? Stay tuned and watch as history repeats itself.

March 18 2011 at 1:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bigbob0212

We do not want any part of our country turned into the same situation as some communites in france. Where french police is not welcomed and are barred going into the muslin neighborhood to keep peace. Their thought is that they can do whatever they want. Their forum is too take a little now and spread as fast as they can to gain control of more neighborhoods. Check it out. Muslims in france.

March 16 2011 at 10:38 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
lekcunkcufuall

WHEN DID THE USA LET A KNOWEN BAG MAN FOR SIEN FEIN JUD....WAIT JUST A SECOND WHAT ARE WE DOING THE FOX IS GARDEING THE HEN HOUSE

March 15 2011 at 11:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
twsm1th

As a very liberal Democrat, I believe that the Muslim community here and around the world has not done enough to expose the terrorists. I do not not believe that decrying backlash against Muslims is the same as condenming the terrorists. However, holding hearings is just a stunt to get Mr. King some press. Either infiltrate the mosques or confron the leaders directly. Muslims in America need to step up and help prevent further terrorism.

March 14 2011 at 10:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CalSailor

Rep King is being totally unfair in his concerns about the Muslim community. The issue is not Islam, it is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is a point of view taken to extremes. There are fundamentalists in EVERY religion. Timothy McVeigh's attack on the federal building is the result of long simmering frustrations, aided and abetted by extremist materials, including the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"--a notoriously anti-Semitic text. Within racial groups, there are a number of white supremicist groups, some whom claim to be "Christian" in their views, but they are NOTHING like true Christian faith. There are people training their kids to emulate Hitler, and others who have acted on Hitler's ideology, such as the attack on the Holocaust Memorial. There are Jewish extremists, too--some of which are being recruited right here in the US. Some of the most aggressive of the Israeli settler movement...the ones you see in images, heavily armed and beligerently demanding their "rights" in Israel, are originally from New York. The IRA claims to be Catholic, and except for a few deluded bishops whose ethnic loyalties supercedes their faith, have no claims to be Catholic. And so on, and so on. If we want to be safe, as a country, we must repudiate such extremism. Compassion, and the inclusion of all people into the mainstream of American life are the most effective anti-extremist tools we have. People of whatever persuasion who feel like they belong to the society in which they live are not fertile grounds for radicalization. Exclusion, scapegoating and isolating people are the true sources of radicalization. Rep King is playing right into the game plan of angry, disaffected people; his hearings will accomplish nothing beneficial, except name recognition for the congressman. Good job, congressman. I hope you feel it is worth it.

Pr Chris

March 13 2011 at 8:24 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
shmh1

Talk to the Fort Hood survivors and the families of the ones that were killed.

Talk to the students of the Lubbock, TX college and their parents about the young Saudi Muslim just arrested last week for plotting Jihad.

It is an unfortunate reality, but this is our world today.

March 13 2011 at 12:41 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
Donald

You would think that America could and probably is infiltrating into radical islamic groups to flush out those that pose a threat to America's safety and security. Lets have faith in Homeland security which is getting better each day it studies the challenges imposing the American way of prosperity

March 12 2011 at 11:27 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

I listened to the testimonies on CSPAN yesterday, nothing in the mainstream media today of those fathers who lost their sons recruited here in the US. Its too bad everything has come down to the Democrats or Republicans. If Congressmen, especially one whose district was severely hit with deaths of Americans at 911, receive information and they can't hold hearings without offending someone then this country can kiss its rear goodbye. We need to speak out pro or con, we need to find the truth, whatever it is, and we need a sorely irresponsible media to get back on track.

March 11 2011 at 10:40 AM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
krillroye

Most seem to ignore that the greater threat is completely domestic, non-Muslim. Timothy McVey , Ted Kozinsky, those shooting abortion doctors or congress women had nothing to do with Islam. 100,000 Americans a year die from medical mistakes ranging from mis-labeled drugs to outright malpractice, and another 100,000 per year due to hospital contracted infections. That's 4,000 PER WEEK, equal to 200 airliners crashing EACH WEEK!! But we don't put the effort or money into changing this that we do the TSA and trying to prevent one airliner being attacked. Our fear of Islam is childish. Islam is not the threat. The threat is AlQuieda and our our own ineptitude. If we really wish to create a conflict with Islam, King's witch hunt/ crusade is surely the way to bring it about----get them as paranoid of us as most of use seem to be of them.

March 10 2011 at 7:39 PM Report abuse -14 rate up rate down Reply

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