Dem on Islamic State: ‘Violent Extremism Has No Race, Ethnicity, Religion or Culture’

By Penny Starr | September 17, 2014 | 1:38pm EDT

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, spoke at a hearing on Sept. 17, 2014 on the threat that ISIS poses to the homeland. ( Starr)

( – Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said at the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Wednesday that the threat posed to the homeland by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has nothing to do with religion or culture.

“Last month’s arrest of Dan Morgan illustrates my long-standing view that we must reject specific ethnic or religious profiles of “would-be terrorists,” Thompson, ranking member on the committee, said.

“Violent extremism has no race, ethnicity, religion or culture, and there is no single profile or pathway for individuals who come to embrace violent extremism,” Thompson said.

Thompson was referring to Donald Ray Morgan, 44, an American who was arrested on Aug. 2 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on a return flight to the United States from Germany. According to a federal affidavit, Morgan, a former Catholic who converted to Islam, was arrested on a federal firearms possession charge, according to an Aug. 11 report by USA Today.

In an exclusive interview with NBC published on Sept. 3, Morgan spoke about his religious reasons for trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

“It was months and months and months of asking Allah to guide me or to give me the answers I needed,” Morgan told NBC in an interview this summer in Beirut.

“My reason for the support of ISIS is because they’ve proven time and time again to put Islamic law as the priority and the establishment of an Islamic state as the goal,” Morgan said.


Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, spoke at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Sept. 17, 2014. ( Starr)

One of the witnesses at the hearing, Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said religious ideology was a motivating factor for ISIS or ISIL.


“ISIL’s goal is to solidify and expand its control of territory and govern by implementing its violent interpretation of sharia law,” Olsen said in his prepared remarks. “The group aspires to overthrow governments in the region, govern all the territory that the early Muslim caliphs controlled, and expand.

“ISIL’s claim to have re-established the caliphate reflects the group’s desire to lead violent extremists around the world,” Owen said.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey also testified.

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