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House Hearing On Terrorism Singles Out Bay Area Muslim Group

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS/AP) - The New York Congressman who chairs a House committee examining homegrown terrorism specifically called out a Bay Area Muslim group in his opening remarks to a controversial hearing Thursday.

Rep. Peter King said the Bay Area branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations discouraged Muslims from cooperating with law enforcement, displaying a CAIR poster that read "Build a Wall of Resistance to the FBI."

"FBI Director (Robert) Mueller has ordered the FBI to cease all jailings and contact with CAIR, possibly and probably because of this type of placard and poster which was posted by San Francisco CAIR," King said.

The executive director of CAIR's San Francisco Bay Area chapter, Zahra Biloo, acknowledged the poster had been on its website, but was removed after just a few days.

KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:

There were sharp divisions among members of the House Homeland Security committee over how to frame the issue of domestic terrorist threats.

Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier was concerned others on the committee would let the hearing devolve into a broad brush targeting of a single community.

"It is a hearing that deserves to have thoughtful review of many groups, not just singling out one," she said.

Speier disputed King's contention that 80 percent of U.S. mosques are led by extremist imams.

"Frankly the facts don't support that. It tends to be lone wolves, individuals who have not necessarily frequented mosques," she said.

Tips from American Muslims are what led to the arrests of a third of the suspects in terrorist cases prosecuted since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to Speier.

Biloo pointed out that constitutionally informed cooperation with law enforcement is something CAIR encourages.

Despite years government focus on terrorism, there is no one predictable path toward violence. Homegrown terrorists have been high school dropouts and college graduates as well, people from poor and wealthy families alike. Some studied overseas. Others were inspired over the Internet.

That has complicated government efforts to understand and head off the radicalization process. And it reduced some of Thursday's debate to a series of anecdotes: of Islamic terrorists on the one hand, and Islamic firefighters on the other.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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