When Barry Bujol wanted advice on how to support Jihad, he would go to the library at Prairie View A&M University in the Houston suburb of Hempstead. But beyond surfing the Internet for answers, Mr. Bujol would exchange emails directly with the man believed to be the world’s most dangerous terrorist.
Mr. Bujol, a 29-year-old Muslim-American, was a textbook recruit for Anwar Al-Awlaki, the radical Muslim cleric with dual US-Yemeni citizenship. In the post-9/11 era, Awlaki has transformed the way al Qaeda plots against our nation and has surpassed Osama bin Laden as the single greatest threat to the United States. English-speaking operatives such as Awlaki have enhanced al Qaeda’s ability to target U.S. citizens for recruitment. Al Qaeda’s tactic is to radicalize American citizens to follow a violent, jihadist sect of Islam and direct or inspire them to carry out small-scale attacks.
Mr. Bujol was indicted for attempting to provide money and materials to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. By the time he was arrested in May 2010 attempting to board a ship at the Port of Houston that he thought was bound for the Middle East, federal investigators had compiled a trail of evidence of his radicalization at the hands of Awlaki. In numerous e-mail exchanges Mr. Bujol requested guidance involving “jihad.” In return, Awlaki e-mailed a document titled “42 Ways of Supporting Jihad.” After Mr. Bujol was arrested during an earlier attempt to leave the US for training in Yemen, officers found a CD in his car titled “The Hereafter” by Anwar Al-Awlaki, subtitled “Introduction, the importance of Akhira-Death.” The radicalization of Barry Bujol is just one example of ongoing attempts by organized terror networks to transform Muslim-Americans into foot soldiers of Islamic extremism that will infiltrate and attack the United States. The Bujol case was one of 27 terror plots over the past two years, each of them involving radical Islam extremists. Suspects in at least 24 of the plots were US citizens or residents. Mr. Bujol received little public attention compared to high profile arrests such as the Detroit Christmas Bomber, the Times Square Bomber, or Nidal Hasan, the US Army Major who had also been in contact with Awlaki before he went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. However, each case represents the urgent need to investigate the dangerous infiltration of radical Islam into America’s otherwise law-abiding, patriotic Muslim community. This ongoing threat to all Americans is the basis for this week’s hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.”
It is unfortunate that some have attempted to mischaracterize this hearing as an attack on American Muslims. To the contrary, it is al Qaeda that is attacking our Muslim youth. Al Qaeda had made it clear they are targeting Muslim-Americans. This hearing aims to protect members of the Muslim community from terrorist organizations by strengthening their relationship with law enforcement. There is no question that American Muslims are vital partners in fighting homegrown radicalization.
Failing to investigate what our Intelligence Community deems a threat to the American people is simply an abdication of our foremost responsibility under the Constitution. Yet the Congress, under recent Democratic leadership, failed to hold a single hearing on attempted terrorist attacks, including the Fort Hood massacre. Major Hasan was promoted on numerous occasions from within in the name of political correctness despite the red flags of his radicalization. At a memorial service for the victims Fort Hood’s commander, Gen. Robert Cone, told me he wished he had been warned about the relationship between Major Hasan and Awlaki. Equally troubling is that the Obama administration has favored political correctness over its highest responsibility to the American people. It has hesitated to call suspects “terrorists,” has been slow to acknowledge radicalization and recruitment, and refused to accurately describe attacks as obvious acts of Jihad.
This week our committee will end the era of political correctness and begin respectfully asking the necessary questions that may ultimately protect every American.
*Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is a fourth-term congressman and has been a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security for six years.