WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said Wednesday the arrest of six men allegedly plotting to attack U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Dix, N.J., illuminated an urgent need for the federal government to develop a strategy to counter the spread of Islamic extremism within the United States.
Lieberman praised the work of the FBI in uncovering the New Jersey plot and said that while we rely on law enforcement to expose criminal activities, the government must also present an articulate message in opposition to the one disseminated by Osama Bin Laden and other violent radicals intent on bringing mayhem to our shores.
“We simply have not devoted the proper amount of attention and resources to address the spread of Islamic extremism,” Lieberman said. “Nor do I see the kind of leadership we need to put together an effective, government-wide effort to respond to the ideology the extremists are spreading.”
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has undertaken an investigation into the “War of Ideas,” examining how violent Islamists are radicalized and how the federal government is responding. Three hearings have been held and a fourth is scheduled for Thursday, May 10, 2007, at 2:30 p.m. in Dirksen 342.
“Our investigation has led to a recognition that the Internet has become the primary tool by which terrorists recruit, train, and launch attacks,” Lieberman said. “Yet, the federal government has not produced a strategy for reaching out to the discontented men and women susceptible to the terrorists’ radical propaganda. We need to do a better job of presenting a vision of what the U.S. stands for, of providing a hopeful alternative to terror and death.
“Our investigation tells me so far that we need to strengthen our channels of communication between the government and the Muslim-American and Arab-American communities, which would increase, as an added benefit, the effective cooperation of informants such as those who proved so critical to the Fort Dix case. We must coordinate our efforts to present a coherent counter message of hope. And we must recruit government workers trained in critical languages, with in-depth knowledge of religious, historical and cultural issues to help us achieve these goals.”