House Homeland Security Chair Peter King is holding a joint hearing today with Senate Homeland Security Chair Joe Lieberman on the threat of homegrown terrorism in the U.S. military. Opponents like the ACLU are already claiming the hearing will “do a disservice to American Muslims serving our country.” But while King’s critics often talk about honoring Muslim Americans in the military, nobody has ever actually released the actual number of those who serve and have been killed in action in the War on Terror – and even the U.S. military has stayed mum on it.
It might surprise them that these statistics are included in King’s report:
At least 6,024 U.S. service members who declared Islam as their faith have served honorably in overseas war deployments since the 9/11 attacks, and 14 Muslim-American troops have been killed in action, all in Iraq, the Pentagon informed the Committee’s Majority Staff. We honor these American heroes, four of whom are buried in nearby Arlington National Cemetery, for making the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation.
Of course, while we should honor the thousands of Muslim Americans who have served honorably – and the 14 who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country – that doesn’t mean we can ignore the very real threat of homegrown terror in the military. As Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and Army Pvt. Naser Abdo have shown, radicalization puts all of our troops at risk – including Muslim American service members. According to the committee report, “The Committee’s Majority Staff has reason to believe that the actual number of radicalized troops is far more than publicly realized or acknowledged.”
But 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 Committee’s Majority Staff has determined that nine or more Muslim-Americans who are current, former or would-be military insiders have been convicted since 2001 or stand charged with national security crimes. An additional two Muslim-Americans convicted of planning terrorist attacks against military targets inside the U.S. had earlier tried and failed to join police departments or the FBI and CIA.
Honoring our troops also means keeping them safe from internal attacks. Today’s hearing is a crucial step toward doing that.