Arab-American Named MA Homeland Security Director


Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick named a Harvard lecturer who frequently appears on television as a terrorism analyst as the state’s new homeland security adviser, reports the Boston Globe. Juliette Kayyem, 37, will be the only Arab-American to hold a state-level homeland security position, said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “It’s a tremendous opportunity,” said Kayyem, who will serve as undersecretary of homeland security, a new position. She will be paid $125,000 a year. “This is not an easy job; conceptually, it’s huge. And there are so many competing priorities,” Kayyem said.

Kayyem, who has given up her teaching job and her position as a terrorism analyst for NBC News, said Patrick and Kevin Burke, secretary of public safety, are committed to having one person coordinate all the homeland security functions of state government. In the mid-1990s, after Kayyem graduated from Harvard Law School, Patrick hired her as a trial attorney in the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, where she worked on national security and terrorism cases. Kayyem, a Lebanese-American, said she recognizes the historic significance of her appointment, though she views herself as an American first. “I don’t want to downplay” my ethnicity, she said. “It’s clearly part of who I am and reflects some of my concern about the civil liberties and privacy issues. There’s no question about that. I think I also have greater respect and confidence in the Arab-American community than probably a lot of other people would.” Said Ashraf Hegazy, co founder of the Harvard Arab Alumni Association and a member of the National Policy Council of the Arab-American Institute: “This is fantastic.”


Comments are closed.