Former counterterrorism chief says Muslims cooperate

March 8, 2011

(RNS) A former FBI counterterrorism director on Tuesday (March 8)
rejected allegations by the chairman of the House Homeland Security
Committee that Muslim Americans don't cooperate with law enforcement in
terror investigations.


Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican, will open hearings on
Thursday about Muslim radicalization that critics say unfairly singles
out Muslims.


"I will tell you in no uncertain terms that the community has on
multiple occasions come forward and assisted law enforcement," said
Michael Rolince, who headed the Counterterrorism Division in the FBI's
Washington field office between 2002 and 2005.


Rolince said the hearings and heated "rhetoric" from politicians
attacking Muslims undermine that cooperation, and said smart
counterterrorism strategy requires engaging with Muslim Americans.


"You talk to everyone and then you figure out who's going to be
helpful, who's going to be harmful, and who's not going to be a factor,"
said Rolince, speaking in a conference call sponsored by Muslim
Advocates, a civil rights group in San Francisco. "This is not easy.
Anyone who thinks you can just snap your fingers and everyone's going to
go along and understand both sides of the equation is in the wrong line
of work."


Despite his criticism of the King hearings, Rolince said he hoped
some good would come of the controversial hearings. "I think this is
going to be a great conversation after the hearings," he said.


Muslim Advocates used the call to announce a new website,
www.whatunites.us, where people are asked to sign a pledge "against
fearmongering." Current signatories include 9/11 Families For Peaceful
Tomorrows, the Sikh Coalition, the North Carolina Council of Churches
and the American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association.