Experts Testify on Al-Shabaab Before the Homeland Security Committee

By Carlton Purvis

Smith and Joscelyn both testified that in the past, al-Shabaab has recruited people that weren’t of Somali descent.

Some members of the committee said too much focus was being put on addressing Muslim radicalization when the focus should be on addressing radicalization of all at-risk groups. People of all kinds are targets of radicalization, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) said, suggesting that having group-specific hearings could set an arbitrary precedent. Lawmakers say the focus on Muslims singles them out and ignores other forms of domestic extremism.

“For us to focus on Muslim communities opens us up to disdain of others and perpetuates the notions we’re trying to combat. I don’t see the same types of resources put into communities that are poor where young people are being jumped into gangs, and it’s just as valid,” Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said.

"What’s next? [Hearings on] radicalization of grocery stores, radicalization of bingo halls,” Richmond said.

To which King responded, “People in bingo games and grocery stores have not killed 3,000 Americans.There’s only one group that’s killed 3,000 Americans.” He later clarified that he meant al-Qaeda and not Muslims.

As to actually assessing al-Shabaab’s threat, Folk may have provided the closest thing to a real answer: Right now, al-Shabaab is more aspirational than operational.

“We don’t know when they’re going to cross the line from aspiration to operation. That can’t be predicted in any force of certainty…groups that might be aspirational today could be operational tomorrow,” he said.

photo by from flickr


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