Muslim Group: ‘Our Heads Aren’t In The Sand’ On Threat Of Islamic Extremism

The American Muslim community knows that Islamic extremism is a threat — and several panelists at a forum hosted by a Muslim-American group on Capitol Hill today said that a community policing approach in partnership with the intelligence community was the best way to counter radicalization.

“Law enforcement can neither go in alone or arrest its way out of this challenge,” the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Alejandro J. Beutel said.

“Our heads aren’t in the sand, the threat clearly exists,” Beutel said. “The threat exists, but it is not a pandemic.”Some of the panelists expressed hope that the hearings being held by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) could be an opportunity to have a mature, informed discussion on the threat of radicalization.

“We cannot prejudge what Congressman King is up to,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who invited King to come to Los Angeles and witness the relationship he’s formed with local communities from a variety of faiths, said at the meeting.

“I’m a believer that local law enforcement cannot be ignored,” Baca said, speaking before a group of Arab-Americans — including some of whom work in Congress and federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “Police diplomacy and human diplomacy is necessary.”

King has said that he’s heard evidence that communities aren’t cooperating with law enforcement.

“I don’t know what Mr. King is hearing and who he’s hearing it from, but you cannot make a statement of this magnitude” without having the facts to back it up, Baca said. “If he has evidence of non-cooperation he should bring it forward.”

Beutel said that Muslim communities had a civil and moral responsibility to counter extremism in their communities, and added that many plots would not have been stopped without help from Muslim-Americans.

Suhail Khan, a conservative Muslim-American and former Bush administration official, moderated the panel.