| AMP Report – December 9, 2011
Peter King continues anti-Muslims witch hunt
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Republican Rep. Peter King – an avowed supporter of the Irish Republican Army, the Irish terrorist organization during the 80′s and 90′s – continued his anti-Muslim witch hunt Wednesday (Dec 7, 2011) with his controversial congressional hearing. This time the focus of his hearing was the Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States from what he claims homegrown terrorism. This was King’s fourth such hearing.
On the occasion of the fourth anti-Muslim hearing, Rep King released a report which among other things revealed that there were 6,024 Muslims troops that have served our country in the military since 2001, and 14 Muslim soldiers lost their lives to protect our homeland.
The Report said that at least 33 threats, plots and strikes against U.S. military communities since 9/11 have been part of a surge of homegrown terrorism.
“Our troops volunteer to go into harm’s way overseas to protect all of us,” King said in his opening remarks at a hearing. “They should not be in harm’s way here at home, and yet they are.”
During the hearings, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton flatly refused to use the term “violent Islamic extremism.” From his experience as a high-ranking counterterrorism official, he declared that our current primary threat is “Al Qaeda and its affiliates,” not Islam, and that it is unhelpful to frame our efforts using the term Islam.
Rep. Laura Richardson asked “Is there a threat to military communities limited to Islamic extremists, yes or no?” Lt. Col Sawyer answered that they have also seen a “proliferation of other movements outside the Islamic faith,” and then he mentioned how members have been targeted by “Christian movements and Identity movements.”
Rep. Richardson followed by saying that it has been mentioned that skinheads and White extremists were a threat in the 90′s, and asked if the panelists would consider them to no longer be a threat? All answered “no.”
Rep. Laura Richardson then went on to state that the reason she is asking those questions is because the topic today is “Homegrown terrorism: the threat to military communities inside the United States, it doesn’t say Islamic anywhere in here.” A crucial point considering that the actual hearing wasn’t as broad as the language would imply, and instead was solely focused on the “radical Islamic homegrown threat.”
In a statement Congressman Mike Honda pointed out that in view of on King’s past hearings, the American people are justified to fear that King will rely on insidious discrimination targeting Muslim Americans. “If the hearing’s date (Pearl Harbor’s Anniversary) and its subject matter, the 2009 attack at Ft. Hood Texas , are any indication, today’s hearing will go too far by singling out Muslim-American service members as the danger to our military communities. Whatever happens today, let us be clear: Any blanket suggestion that all Muslim American soldiers are the threat is morally and strategically wrong.”
King’s counterpart on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), again denounced King’s hearings, saying they are creating perceptions that are “not likely to be accurate, nuanced or subtle.” “Our military is open to all faiths,” Thompson said in the hearing. “A congressional hearing that focuses on religion and the military is likely to harm unit cohesion and undermine morale.”
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a written statement in part said: “By singling out Islam and Muslim Americans in its reports and hearings on the terror threat, Congress increases the likelihood that U.S. law enforcement officials will misunderstand the scientific evidence surrounding risk factors for violence and focus their investigative efforts on innocent Americans because of their beliefs rather than on true threats to the community. The ACLU has documented how U.S. law enforcement agencies are already exhibiting anti-Muslim bias in their trainings, operations, and intelligence products.”
The ACLU statement went on to say: “Many U.S. officials continue to focus their counterterrorism analysis on Muslim American communities even though empirical studies show that violent threats cannot be identified by any religious, ideological, ethnic, or racial profile. Such unjust targeting is widespread and is often based on the unsound reasoning used in ill-conceived and methodologically flawed reports that ignore empirical evidence that there is no direct link between religious observance or radical ideas and violent acts.”
Shoulder-to-Shoulder, a coalition of 27 American faith-based and interfaith organizations and religious denominations, in a written testimony pointed out that “by focusing only on the American Muslim community for threats of radicalization, this hearing does a disservice to American Muslims – especially those serving in the United States Armed Forces – by wrongly connecting faithful observance of Islam with suspect behavior.” “This connection sows mistrust of these men and women by distorting their military service, Shoulder-to-Shoulder said adding: Some American Muslim soldiers, buried in Arlington Cemetery, have given what President Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion” while serving their country.
In written testimony submitted during Wednesday’s hearing, ISNA shared with the joint committee the American Muslim communities’ commitment to ensuring the security of our service members. We also expressed our concern that the limited scope of this fourth hearing once again sought to discriminate against the Muslim community and isolate it, rather than unite our nation. We encouraged Congress to focus more comprehensively on better strategies to train all members of the military in how to identify indicators that a soldier or military personnel may be a danger to others or themselves instead of casting suspicion on an entire religious group.