US officials back panel investigating Muslim radicalization

March 9, 2011 17:59

WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives will investigate radicalization in the American-Muslim community, sparking outrage that the probe is a witch hunt akin to the 1950s anti-Communist campaign.

With al Qaida and its affiliates openly trying to recruit Americans and Muslims inside the United States for attacks, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King called congressional hearings on the subject "absolutely essential."

"I am facing reality, my critics are not," King said on MSNBC. "Al Qaida is changing its tactics, they realize that it's very difficult to attack from the outside, they're recruiting from within."

King, who will lead a hearing on Thursday, has questioned the cooperation by Muslim Americans with US law enforcement authorities and accused mosques of being a breeding ground for radicalization.

"I think there's positive to come from this if people are open to hearing what comes out of the hearings, and not just a sound bite or two," said Juan Carlos Zarate, a Bush administration terrorism adviser who is now at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

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