Chadwick Ciocci, Columnist
Ideology: Republican | Writing from: Connecticut

Congressman Peter King recently announced that in his new position as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee he will hold hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims. The announcement has been met with outlandish cries of bigotry, racism and xenophobia—cries which only can be fed by a willful blindness to the very real homegrown threat which stands to kill innocent Americans. 

In his Newsday op-ed, King points out some of the most recent examples of homegrown terrorism:

  • Najibullah Zazi, who tried to attack the New York City subway system with liquid explosives
  • Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009 and
  • Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber

In all of these cases the terrorists in question were legally abiding in the U.S. or were American citizens, who for whatever reason had become so radicalized in their faith and politics that they were willing to kill other Americans. And these are just three well-known examples of homegrown terrorism. King points out in his article that there have been recent attempts at home grown terrorism in at least six other states besides the examples above. 

Home grown terrorism is a serious and potentially deadly threat that must be understood before it is to be combated, and King’s hearings are a step in that direction. 

Perhaps most troubling, and further evidence in favor of King’s hearings, is a recent Pew Poll which points out that 15 percent of American Muslim youth—those between the ages of 18 and 29—say that suicide bombing is a justified action. This is a staggering figure considering that it only takes one person who believes suicide bombing is justified to follow through on that belief and cause massive damage and death in a mall, a subway or anywhere else. That 15 percent of American Muslim youth believe this is not only startling, but presents a long-term national security risk which must be tackled now. 

To ignore this threat would be to allow the current generation of radicalized Muslim youth not only to follow through on their beliefs potentially and either commit or aid and abet the committing of terrorism, but it would mean that a significant part of the next generation of American Muslims will be raised by parents who believe that suicide bombing—and presumably other forms of terrorism—are perfectly acceptable. Should Muslim radicalization become a multi-generational national security threat, then we will have left the problem of home-grown terrorism to our children and grandchildren, and that would be deeply irresponsible of our generation. 

Thus far King has not proposed any potential causes for American Islamic radicalization, nor has he proposed any resolutions. All he has proposed is that his committee will hold hearings on this issue. Criticisms of witch-hunts are common in our society, but such criticism of these committee hearings seems woefully ignorant of the fact that as abhorrent and anti-woman as the American and European witch-hunts actually were, they were the sorry response of a less-Enlightened and far more foolish era. Witches never existed and never caused a threat to anyone’s national security, even if some ignoramus claimed they were a threat to civilization. But there are American, home-grown terrorists, and it appears that the conditions for their radicalization are very real and very dangerous. 

Comparing King’s committee hearings to a witch-hunt is the equivalent of saying that American Islamic radicalization isn’t real, but whereas one would have saved lives in the case of the former had witch-hunts been defeated before they started, the potential results of stopping the latter are enormous. American Islamic radicalization is very real, and as Nidal Hasan proved last year, it also has very real consequences.