Recent arrests of Muslim lone wolves plotting terror attacks in several states underscore the rationale for a series of congressional hearings on Muslim radicalization, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said.
HS TODAY Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has held four hearings on Muslim radicalization, one of which he co-chaired with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) in the first-ever joint hearing of the Senate and House homeland security committees. That hearing, held Dec. 7, examined the threat radicals pose to the US military from inside and outside of it, particularly in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre of November 2009.
The arrests of the terror plotters in the past week demonstrated the extent of the problems associated with Muslim radicalization and thus the cause for the hearings, King contended. Authorities recently arrested Craig Baxam, a former US Army soldier, for supporting terrorist group Al Shabaab in Maryland, and Sami Osmakac, who conspired to attack military troops in Tampa, Fla., in two separate cases.
“As disturbing as these arrests are, they certainly do not come as a surprise,” King said in a statement. “Within the past year, I have convened two House Homeland Security Committee hearings, part of a series of radicalization hearings, to examine these very topics: radicalized Muslim Americans joining Al Qaeda affiliated Al Shabaab and the Islamist terror threat within and to the US military community.”
King continued, “At one of the hearings in December, the committee learned that the threat of radicalized military personnel becoming involved in terrorist activity is very serious, with radicalized soldiers launching two successful attacks on military targets and the recent disruption of at least five recent terror plots involving military insiders and 11 involving former military personnel or those who attempted to join a law enforcement or intelligence agency. At this same hearing, we heard testimony reinforcing that Al Qaeda, its affiliates and its adherents seek to target military personnel here in the homeland.”
On July 27, King convened a hearing on the efforts of Al Shabaab, based in Somalia, to recruit Muslim Americans. Testimony at that hearing indicated more than 40 Americans have joined Al Shabaab in recent years.
Commenting on the case of Baxam specifically attempting to join Al Shabaab, King expressed concern that the former solider was deployed to Korea working as a signals intelligence cryptographer. At the same time, Baxam was undergoing radicalization, which could have led to the exposure of sensitive data. Authorities have received information that Osmakac traveled to Kosovo in his plot to learn ways in which to attack military personnel.
In addition to the July 27 hearing on Al Shabaab, King convened a hearing on Muslim radicalization in US prisons on June 15 and a hearing on countering Muslim radicalization within Muslim-American communities on March 10. On Dec. 7, King held the fourth and latest hearing on Muslim radicalization, which focused on the radical threat to the US military, with Lieberman.