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US Domestic Terror Warning Stirs Debates

Published: 09/12/2011 01:35:11 PM GMT
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WASHINGTON - Reviving the tempest raised earlier this year, the White House has introduced a new intensified government strategy to combat homegrown te (more)

WASHINGTON - Reviving the tempest raised earlier this year, the White House has introduced a new intensified government strategy to combat homegrown terrorism, singling out US Muslims as a main target of Al-Qaeda radicalization.

"Protecting our nation's communities from violent extremist recruitment and radicalization is a top national security priority," said the document, known as the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), cited by Agence France Presse (AFP) on Thursday, December 8.

"It is an effort that requires creativity, diligence, and commitment to our fundamental rights and principles.

"Although the SIP will be applied to prevent all forms of violent extremism, we will prioritize preventing violent extremism and terrorism that is inspired by al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents."

The initiative commits the federal government to work closely with local authorities and communities that may be targeted by extremist groups.

It also commits a task force of senior officials from a wide range of departments to ensuring the federal government engages closely with local communities.

The document also calls for new efforts to analyze the impact of the Internet and social networks on radicalizing Americans from outside the country.

"This direct communication allows violent extremists to bypass parents and community leaders," the plan said.

"Because of the importance of the digital environment, we will develop a separate, more comprehensive strategy for countering and preventing violent extremist online radicalization.

The strategy was released a day after a congressional report said homegrown Islamic terrorists who target US military bases are a "severe and emerging threat."

"A particularly insidious aspect of the homegrown terror threat remains radicalized troops who target their fellow brothers and sisters in arms, without regard to their faith," the report was cited by AFP.

The report, released Thursday by the staff of Rep. Peter King, R-NY, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, lists 33 "threats, plots and strikes" against military communities since Sept. 11, 2001.

"Military communities in the [United States] have recently become the most sought-after targets of violent Islamist extremists seeking to kill Americans in their homeland," King said at a committee meeting, UPI reported.

"We cannot stand idly by while our heroes in uniform are struck down in the place they feel safest."

Military Threat

Singling out Muslims, the congressional report was blasted by Rep. Bennie Thompson, the leading Democrat on the committee, saying it paints a picture that is "not likely to be accurate, nuanced or subtle."

"Focusing on the followers of one religion as the only credible threat to this nation's security is inaccurate, narrow and blocks consideration of emerging threats," Thompson said, UPI reported.

"A congressional hearing that focuses on religion and the military is likely to harm unit cohesion and undermine morale within our military."

Republican reports targeting US Muslim communities are not new this year.

A similar debate at the US Congress last March about the radicalization of Muslims stirred fierce criticism from US officials and Muslims for stigmatizing the whole Muslim community in the country.

Introduced by Republican congressman Peter King, the hearing called for a probe into what he called “radicalization” of US Muslims, accusing Muslim leaders of not cooperating with law enforcement authorities in fighting terrorism.

Another hearing titled, “The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in US Prisons,” was also debated last June.

Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.

Anti-Muslim frenzy has grown sharply in the US in recent months over plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.

A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.

A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.

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