The first Muslim elected to Congress said Sunday that homegrown terrorism is an increasing problem, but cautioned law enforcement to work with the Muslim community to catch extremists.
On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said a report last week from the Bipartisan Policy Center assessing the threat nine years after the attacks showed that al-Qaeda's shifting strategy was a "real threat."
"The strategy has changed," Kean said. "They're potting smaller attacks and using nontraditional people," such as American citizens with passports who can travel freely.
"We think it's very serious and we think it's a growing threat," he said.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said he agreed with the report's findings, but questioned how the threat assessment might be used. "The information is right," he said. "The question is, what do we do with it?"
Ellison said it would be the "wrong direction" to focus on the American Muslim community as a whole. He said if outreach to the Muslims across the nation is a priority, those "good, loyal Americans will be among the first" to report suspicious activity.
The congressman added that controversies here needed to be calmed to deprive al-Qaeda of its talking points that Muslims in America aren't treated well.
He also encouraged Muslim families to talk to their children about the risks of domestic terrorist recruitment. "Understand that there are people who are trying to recruit your kids," Ellison said.
Kean agreed that the "vast majority of Islam is with us on this fight" and that those tasked with homeland security should "deal with the majority of Islam in good faith."
"This is not a country about hate; never has been," Kean said.