On Thursday, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York will convene in his House Homeland Security Committee one of the most anticipated - and controversial - hearings in memory. The subject? "The extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community and that community's response." It is hard to imagine a more timely and more urgently needed inquiry.
For one thing, events in the Middle East have thrust to the forefront concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). That organization was established in Egypt in 1928, and it is likely to become the dominant political force there in the wake of the overthrow of the MB's long-time nemesis, former President Hosni Mubarak.
For another, confusion about the true nature and intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood is much in evidence at the moment. The director of National Intelligence, Gen. James R. Clapper, contributed to it, first by testifying last month that the Brotherhood is "a largely secular organization." He subsequently recanted that preposterous characterization but nonetheless downplayed concerns about the group by insisting that it is "heterogeneous," has "eschewed violence" and is engaged in good works, such as hospitals and day care.
Such contentions are, presumably, contributing to the Obama administration's intention - as reported on the front page of The Washington Post last Friday - to establish relations with Muslim Brotherhood-dominated or other Islamist governments emerging from the revolutions sweeping the Middle East. The implications of that decision would be incalculably problematic for our homeland security as well as our foreign policy interests.
For these among other reasons, Mr. King's hearings provide an invaluable opportunity to examine not just the threat of "extremism" posed by al Qaeda, but also that arising from the Muslim Brotherhood's operations at home and abroad. Absent the latter, it will be impossible to understand either the source of much of what has been dubbed "extremism" in the Muslim-American community or the reason that community has been so deficient in systematically, comprehensively and consistently responding to extremists in its midst.
In point of fact, as a book published in November by the Center for Security Policy, "Shariah: The Threat to America,"makes clear, the Muslim Brotherhood is not just somebody else's problem; it's ours. It operates in some 70 countries worldwide, including the United States. In each, it adapts its methods to suit the local conditions. Where practicable, the MB uses violence to achieve its goals; where not, its uses stealth.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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