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Thursday, March 15, 2007

LA Times: U.S. officials want more outreach to American Arabs, Muslims

Senior Homeland Security officials told a Senate panel Wednesday that they were having a hard time employing enough interpreters and analysts to counter domestic terrorist threats and that they needed to do more to reach out to American Arabs and Muslims.

They also warned that some American Muslims were at risk of becoming radicalized and might try to execute homegrown terrorist attacks of the sort carried out on London subways and buses in 2005.

And even though they said they were aware of the sensitivity of the situation, Secretary Michael Chertoff and other officials acknowledged that they did not fully understand the radicalization process or know the size of the problem.

In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, they said the department had taken steps to better communicate with Arab, Muslim and South Asian Americans but said more needed to be done to build trust and encourage them to enter public service.

"We believe that a critical element of our strategy for securing this country is to build a level of communication, trust and confidence that is unprecedented in our nation's history," said Daniel W. Sutherland, the department's officer for civil rights and civil liberties. [Link]

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