published Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Needed focus on radical Islam

It's a fact that most Muslims in America do not engage in terrorism. But it's also a fact that a great many of the terrorist acts against this country have been committed by radical Muslims.

So even though we surely should not brand every Muslim a terrorist, it is appropriate that Congress is planning hearings on the radicalization of some segments of America's Muslim population.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is convening hearings in March in the Homeland Security Committee of the House of Representatives. The hearings will focus on the threat of radical Islam in the United States.

That has led some "civil rights" groups to suggest the hearings are discriminatory and to demand that they be stopped, or expanded to include other hate groups.

You can find plenty of mindless hate from varied groups and individuals in this country, and that is much to be deplored. But as a matter of national security, other groups have not recently shown the same likelihood to engage in deadly terrorism that radical Muslims have.

The hearings should not, of course, suggest that all Muslims are violent. In fact, it would be appropriate to commend courageous Muslims who have headed off attacks by informing authorities of terrorist plots. But the threat of radical Islam cannot be ignored or treated as if it were no greater than the threat of violence by other extremist groups.

America will always remember the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Radical Muslims were responsible.

You may recall, too, the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 people and wounded 32. Authorities say the shocking attack was carried out by a U.S.-born Muslim, Army Maj. Nidal Hasan. Alarmingly, Hasan had made it clear long before the attack that he had become a radical Muslim, according to a new U.S. Senate report. Army supervisors referred to him as a "ticking time bomb," the report found. Yet he was never disciplined or discharged.

More recently, there have been foiled bomb plots at New York's Times Square and at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Seattle. Both were linked to radical Islam.

And just last month, a California chapter of a supposedly mainstream Muslim group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, put a poster on its website openly urging people not to cooperate with the FBI.

Hearings on radical Islam are not only reasonable, they're vital.

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