MPAC Executive Director
Testifies before House Committee on Homeland Security
Washington, DC: Muslim
Public Affairs Council Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati
testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee
on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk
Assessment about "Assessing and Addressing the Threat:
Defining the Role of a National Commission on the Prevention
of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism".
Al-Marayati testified alongside counter-terrorism experts
Frank Cilluffo, Director of the Homeland Security Policy
Institute at George Washington University, and Brian Jenkins
of the RAND Corporation.
SEE: Video from Hearing (US House of Representatives, 6/14/07)
Presiding over the hearing was Chairwoman of the Subcommittee,
Jane Harman (D-CA) and present were Congressman Dicks (D-Washington),
Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Congressman Dave Reichert
(R-WA), Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Congressman
Charlie Dent (R-PA).
Congresswoman Harman began the hearing by emphasizing the
importance of creating a National Commission on the Prevention
of Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and stated that
while "it is important for the committee to address
the issue of radicalization, we are not talking about one
particular ethnic, political or religious group".
While all the members of Congress addressed the importance
of this commission, Congressman Reichert stated that "radicalization
is a complex phenomenon but we must understand it in order
to mitigate problems before they occur."
Al-Marayati, who was the only Muslim American expert on
the panel, addressed the issue from the community perspective.
"Islam is the antidote to violent radicalization and
the empowerment of the mainstream Muslim American community
is the most effective but underutilized resource in creating
effective counter-terrorism strategies," Al-Marayati
said. "The role of community-based organizations like
MPAC is critical to bridging the governmental and non-governmental
agencies in any policy initiative.
"To do so, there must be an environment of mutual trust
and respect. Muslim Americans want to be treated as partners
in making America safe and secure, not suspects," Al-Marayati
added. "Treating them as suspects by advocating for
policies that single out and hence isolate the entire community
undermines and impedes efforts for homeland security."
Al-Marayati also referred members of Congress to MPAC's
Counterterrorism Policy Paper, a 2002 report which reviewed
the Federal Government's policy and practices dealing with
counter-terrorism, identified significant policy failures,
and pinpointed constructive actions that need to be taken
to strengthen our government's capacity to ensure our private
freedoms and public safety.
"The commission must address a broad range of questions
such as whether radicalization and recruitment can be framed
as an immigration and assimilation problem as well as understanding
what we currently know about radicalization and recruitment
in the United States," said Brian Jenkins, senior adviser
to the RAND Corporation.
"Radicalization is not a well understood phenomenon,
hence greater study of the life cycle of a terrorist - specifically,
the process by which an individual becomes motivated to
listen to radical ideas, read about them, self-enlist or
respond to terrorist recruiting efforts, and ultimately,
undertake terrorist activity - is needed in part to identify
trigger points and possible points of intervention,"
said Frank Cilluffo, Director of the Homeland Security Policy
Institute at George Washington University.
Over an hour of questions addressed to the witnesses from
the members of the Subcommittee included issues of language,
community policing and the difference between free speech
and the incitement of radicalization. In closing, Congresswoman
Harman stated that "this was one of the best panels
we have ever had." Several other members also agreed
that the hearing was one of the most substantive discussions
within the Subcommittee on this issue.
Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an
American institution which informs and shapes public opinion
and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision
makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC
is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose
of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim