Before Kenya: Media trashed warnings of radicalized U.S. Muslims

Media dismissed it as McCarthyism when Congress looked at recruiting of American Muslims for terrorism--like the Kenya shopping mall attack. Photo: ABC News / Studio Image

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2013 – “McCarthyism!” screamed America’s media. “Witch hunt!” “Islamophobia!”

That’s how the media justified it when they ignored Congressional hearings and other warnings about how American Muslims are being radicalized and recruited as terrorists, including by Al-Shabab (allied with Al-Qaeda). The lack of media attention left millions of Americans unaware of the threat.

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Now Kenya’s government says Americans are among the terrorists who killed over 60 people and wounded another 200 in a Nairobi shopping mall.

If Al-Shabab can recruit Americans to commit long-range terrorism in Africa then it can recruit them to commit terrorism here at home. Kenya could provide the model and the experience for attacking soft targets like American shopping malls.

President Obama’s public response is to offer only limited “law enforcement” aid to Kenya, which has aided us in opposing terrorism in neighboring Somalia. Obama said nothing about combating stateside recruitment, especially within our Somali-American community. He voiced no regrets, much less an apology to Kenya, that we didn’t prevent the export of terrorism from the United States. Unlike Obama, Kenya doesn’t see terrorism as a law enforcement issue to be deterred by threats of criminal charges; they’re using troops against the terrorists.

Just as we had warning signs about Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11, and about radicalizing prior to the Fort Hood killings, we’ve been warned for years about Al-Shabab’s active recruitment within the United States.

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The lack of pressure for our politicians to act against radicalizing traces back to insufficient public awareness. Many Americans remain uninformed because our “mainstream media” belittled and condemned the warnings. The politically-correct media struggles when the bad guys happen to be both black and Muslim. They act as though all blacks or all Muslims were being accused.

I recall watching dumbfounded at ABC’s evening newscast in March 2011 when the House’s Homeland Security Committee conducted its first hearing. ABC News’ entire story focused on a Muslim Congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison (D, Minn.) who wept as he complained that his faith was unfairly being singled-out and accused.

Nobody had accused the entire body of Islam, but only the radical jihadists within it.

Networks interviewed Rep. Peter King (R, NY), then the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. But they ignored the topic of the hearings, namely the radicalization and recruitment of American Muslims, and instead treated it all as an affront to Islam.

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For example:

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, boy, you are stirring up a hornet’s nest here. You’ve been accused of modern-day McCarthyism, fueling bigots. I understand your purpose. But why not beat back the critics by broadening out the hearings to contain all sources of domestic terrorism, rather than zeroing in on a single religion?

KING: Because, George, this is where the threat is coming from… .”

NBC’s Meredith Vieira:

VIEIRA: Let me ask you, starting out, the, the hearing hasn’t even started yet and already you are being compared to Joe McCarthy, hell-bent on a witch hunt. What is your mission?

KING: My mission quite frankly and really quite simply is to show the extent of radicalization within the Muslim-American community being carried out by al Qaeda. This is the same message the President’s national deputy national security adviser gave the other night when he said al Qaeda has changed its strategy and it is now attempting to recruit and radicalize the Muslim-American community. That’s where the threat is coming from.”

The TV anchors never connected the links to radicalization such as U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan’s 2009 murder of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, and the subway and Times Square bombing attempts in New York City.

The top Democrat on the House Committee, Bennie Thompson (D, MI), blew it all off with these words, “Al Shabab does not appear to present any danger to this homeland.”

New York’s WNYC-TV reported after one hearing, “The hearing frequently went off-track, with Democrats using the occasion to attack the very premise of the hearing.”

Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post wrote that Chairman King’s hearings were “McCarthyite,” “theatrical,” “grandstanding” and a “witch hunt.” Robinson wrongfully claimed the probe was aimed at American Muslims in general rather than radical ones in specific.

Yet the hearings included testimony such as from Police Chief Thomas E. Smith of St. Paul, Minnesota, “It is well published that between 2007 and 2009, al-Shabaab successfully lured approximately twenty young Muslim men, many of whom are Somali-American, from the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area to fight overseas in a terrorist war.” [The number has grown since then.]

And Anders Folk, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, who had worked with the FBI and other federal investigators, testified, “Since their departure from Minnesota, these men have been involved in all aspects of al-Shabaab’s terrorist activities, including military training, combat, suicide bombings, and recruitment.” Folk warned that they could “return to the United States to either put those experiences to use or to recruit others to do the same.” He labeled this a “significant threat.”

Today, after the Kenya shopping mall attack, Anders Folks is repeating his warning, “You could take the template of this mall attack that’s happening right now in Kenya and apply it to the U.S.”

Our country remains a big target. Unless our media recover from political correctness and bias, too many Americans will remain uninformed. That means too little pressure on lawmakers and too much inaction by our government.

What happens in Kenya may not stay in Kenya. Especially because some of the roots are still growing in our own American soil.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

Contact Ernest Istook


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