By Kery Murakami
President Barack Obama Wednesday unveiled a plan for dealing with violent extremists that stresses the importance of involving local Muslim communities but also takes pains not to single out Muslims.
"Rather than blame particular communities, it is essential that we find ways to help them protect themselves," the statement said.
"Communities -- especially Muslim-American communities whose children, families and neighbors are being targeted for recruitment by al-Qaida -- are best positioned to take the lead [in countering terrorism] because they know their communities best," the plan said.
Under the plan, the federal government will work with local groups to combat recruitment efforts by extremist groups on the Internet.
The initiative, released by the White House, painted al-Qaida in the context of anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi and other hate groups in American history.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has held a series of hearings examining efforts to radicalize Muslim-Americans.
While some civil rights and Muslim-American activist groups have pressed King to expand his focus, King says efforts to recruit Muslim-Americans remain the biggest threat.
In an interview, King criticized the Obama plan for not more strongly urging Muslim leaders to cooperate with law enforcement. "It makes no reference to the obligations of the Muslim community," he said.
The plan was released while Suffolk and Nassau police officials were at a U.S. Department of Homeland Security conference in Columbus, Ohio, on dealing with violent extremists. Among the topics discussed, said Deputy Suffolk Police Chief Mark White, was educating parents about being aware of what their children were looking at online, in the same vein as how police warn parents of sexual predators.