Expect hearings on the radicalization of Muslims living on U.S. soil to take place in mid-February, said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), in a Jan. 4 interview with Bill O’Reilly on FOX News.
King, newly sworn chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also said his primary goal with the hearings was to raise public awareness that al Qaeda has found it easier to identify and train Muslims already in the nation, rather than attempt jihad attacks against America using recruits who need to be smuggled past the borders. Witness, King said, the “subway bomber in New York,” where in April 2010 law enforcement thwarted a planned Sept. 11 anniversary attack involving al Qaeda recruits who lived in Queens. Or, he added, “the Times Square bomber” in May 2010 involving a Pakinstani-American who tried to blow up an SUV in downtown New York. Or, King continued, the Ft. Hood attack in November 2009 during which Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 and wounded 32, all while screaming “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”
Meanwhile, just this past December, a 46-year-old Indiana grandmother and Muslim convert became the subject of investigation for her suspected ties to terrorist groups.
“We are going to have expert witnesses” speak during the hearings, King told O’Reilly, “probably around mid-February.”
King’s push for congressional discussions comes amidst a storm of controversy from the New York Times and various pro-Muslim groups. Officials with the Council on American-Islamic Relations have likened King’s planned hearings to McCarthy hunts against communism – at the same time denouncing Indiana representatives for defending their state against Sharia law, in response to the grandmother with alleged terrorist links. And editorialists for the Times characterized King’s hearings as an unacceptable “sweeping slur on Muslim citizens.”
King, who promised constituents in a December opinion piece in Newsday to investigate radical Islam, is not backing down.
“I’m absolutely delighted that The New York Times would attack me,” he said, in an early January interview with The Hill. “I have nothing but contempt for them. They should be indicted under the Espionage Act … The New York Times is just basically being a mouthpiece for political correctness.”
In recent days – and despite the pressures from many on the left and in pro-Muslim, politically correct camps -- King has received support for his hearings from some high-ranking sources.
“The congressman’s decision to hold hearings into what he calls the ‘radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism’ is, in my judgment, a sensible act,” wrote former New York Mayor Ed Koch, in a Jan. 3 opinion to media. “His decision is opposed, understandably, by some leaders of the American Muslim community. Far less understandable is the opposition of The New York Times editorial board … [who] accused him of ‘blather’ and ‘bluster’ and lectured him in a Jan. 2 editorial.”
In his piece, Koch reminded readers that many nations – including Great Britain, France, Germany and Sweden, to name a few – have been surprised by the discovery of their own citizens’ plans for terrorist attacks.
“Remember,” Koch wrote, “we are at war with Islamic terrorists who, according to the U.S. government, have al Qaeda cells at work in 62 countries.”
The show of support from Koch, said Shane Wolfe, Republican communications director for the House Homeland Security Committee, in a brief telephone call, amounted to a “big deal.”