White House: U.S. Muslims are allies in fighting terror

STERLING, Va. —American Muslims aren't part of the terrorism problem facing the U.S. —they're part of the solution, a top White House official said Sunday at a Washington-area mosque.

Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough set the Obama administration's tone for discussions as tensions escalate before the first in a series of congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization.

The hearings, chaired by New York Republican Peter King, will focus on the level of cooperation from Muslims to help law enforcement combat radicalization.

The majority of the recent terrorist plots and attempts against the U.S. have involved people espousing a radical and violent view of Islam. Just a few weeks ago a college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas was arrested after he bought explosive chemicals online. It was part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages and blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.

King said Muslims could and should do more to work with law enforcement to stop other Muslims from radicalizing and recruiting others to commit violence.

"I don't believe there is sufficient cooperation" by American Muslims with law enforcement, King said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "Certainly my dealings with the police in New York and FBI and others say they do not believe they get the same — they do not give the level of cooperation that they need."

In New York City on Sunday, about 300 protesters gathered in Times Square to speak out against King's hearing, criticizing it as xenophobic and saying that singling out Muslims, rather than extremists, is unfair.

"Our real enemy is not Islam or Muslims," said Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who has led an effort to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site. "The enemy is extremism and radicalism and radical ideology."