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US Republican Representative Peter King of New York, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, begins the first in a series of hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 10, 2011.
Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York and chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, made the direction of his hearings on the potential radicalization of American Muslims clear from the onset: "Homegrown radicalization is part of al-Qaida's strategy to continue attacking the United States," King said as he opened the hearings. And so began a morning of emotional testimony during a hearing that has been characterized as modern McCarthyism by critics and as asking hard but necessary questions about American security from supporters. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, told the story of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old Muslim who rushed to the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11 to help out, only to be killed when the buildings collapsed. James Clapper, the country’s National Intelligence Director, said that 2010 saw more plots involving homegrown terror plots involving Sunni extremists than in the previous year. Is it fair or accurate to label American Muslims a threat to national security, or to even suggest that the community needs watching—and will these hearings be constructive to finding common ground?
Rep. Dan Lungren, R-CA’s 3rd District; member of the House Committee on Homeland Security; former California Attorney General; was in this morning’s hearing