In advance of the House Committee on Homeland Security hearings tomorrow on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response,” we write to provide the Committee with the Anti-Defamation League’s views on this specific topic. As you conduct these hearings and any follow-up hearings on this narrow topic, we strongly urge you and other Members of Congress to explore this serious issue without creating an atmosphere of blame and suspicion of the American Muslim community.
Congressional efforts to explore legitimate security concerns should not be overwhelmed by the kind of unfair stereotyping and prejudice that has too-frequently accompanied recent public debates. Singling out the Muslim American community for special scrutiny or suspicion would be discriminatory, offensive, ineffective and counterproductive. This is especially true now, because over the past year, ADL has tracked an objectionable, intensified level of anti-Muslim bigotry in a variety of public forums.
ADL has for decades monitored and reported on all forms of extremist threats to the safety and security of Americans. We very much hope you share our view that there is urgent need for the Committee to hold additional hearings on a broad range of other violent international and homegrown threats. Indeed, we believe some of the criticism of these hearings could have been avoided if the Committee had announced these hearings in the context of a future schedule examining other significant foreign and domestic threats to our nation. We urge you to take the opportunity to do so now.
One of the most striking elements of today’s domestic threat picture is the role that a growing number of American citizens and residents motivated by radical interpretations of Islam have played in criminal plots to attack Americans in the U.S. and abroad. It is clear that there are deliberate attempts by international terrorist groups that justify and sanction violence to appeal to and engage sympathizers in the U.S. A disturbing number of cases also demonstrate the degree to which hatred of Jews and Israel play a part in radicalization process of homegrown extremists.
As the Committee and Congress examine the nature of the current threat to our nation, the Anti-Defamation League hopes to play an ongoing, helpful, and constructive role by continuing to offer its expertise in documenting the domestic and international terror threats from across the ideological spectrum. ADL has documented ongoing, dangerous, criminal activities of a variety of extremist and anti-government groups that also merit the Committee’s attention.
Finally, these hearings – and those that come after them – should acknowledge and highlight the extraordinary, successful efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to prevent and deter terrorism on our shores since September 11, 2001. But police and counterterrorism officials do not work in a vacuum; they cannot do their job without community relationships, trust, community cooperation, and a shared sense of responsibility for public safety. Congress should do all in its power to promote trust and encourage stronger relationships to counter attempts by international terrorist organizations to recruit disaffected or alienated Americans.
Robert G. Sugarman
Abraham H. Foxman