New York Rep. Peter King is under attack for his plan to hold hearings on the Muslim community’s lack of cooperation with the government to stop the rising threat of homegrown radicalization when he becomes chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. King’s investigation, though, is imperative, as even top Obama administration officials are warning of the frightening increase in acts of homegrown terrorism.
King is being described as the real extremist for his past vocal support of the Irish Republican Army and is being accused of having an anti-Muslim bias. The legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee says King has “bigoted intentions” and the community affairs director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ New York chapter says he “has dedicated years of his career peddling extremist rhetoric and baseless claims concerning the Muslim community and its leadership.”
The true “baseless claims” are the ones made against King. He was an advocate of U.S. military intervention in the former Yugoslavia on the side of Muslims, has taken Pakistan’s side over India’s in their fight over Kashmir, and had a long relationship with the Muslim community of Long Island. His record contradicts the accusation that he has an anti-Muslim agenda. His warnings are based in fact and they are echoed by top Obama administration officials.
“You didn’t worry about this [homegrown terrorism] even two years ago—about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do,” Attorney General Eric Holder recently said. He added that over the past two years, 125 people in the U.S. have been indicted on terrorism-related charges, 50 of which are American citizens.
On September 22, Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the same thing. He said that terrorist plots against the U.S. “have surpassed the number and pace of attacks during any year since 9⁄11.” These facts underscore the need for a congressional investigation into how to adapt to this changing environment.
King is being criticized for saying in 2004 that “80-85 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists,” even though he emphasized that this does not mean that everyone attending these mosques were extremists. The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned him and the statement is being used as evidence of King’s anti-Muslim bias, but that figure originally came from a Sufi Muslim leader named Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, the chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America. Kabbani’s estimate has since been corroborated by an undercover investigation of 100 mosques and Islamic schools in the country that found that about 75 percent promote an anti-Western form of Islam.
The congressman’s criticism of the Muslim community for not pulling its weight in the War on Terror is what really outraged his critics. However, his stance comes from interacting with Muslims in Long Island that he had a long relationship with. After 9⁄11, he was shocked at how many of them dismissed evidence that Al-Qaeda carried out the attacks, instead attributing it to a government conspiracy involving Zionists.
He is right to view this as a problem big enough to warrant serious attention. According to a Pew survey in 2007, 28 percent of American-Muslims do not believe Arabs are responsible for the 9⁄11 attacks and 32 percent refused to answer or said they were unsure. Five percent view Al-Qaeda favorably and 10 percent “somewhat favorably.” That number jumps to 7 and 16 percent respectively for Muslims between 18 and 29 years old.
The poll also supports the testimony of King’s contacts in the FBI and the law enforcement field who have complained to him about their poor relationship with the Muslim community. It found that 55 percent of American-Muslims do not believe the War on Terror is a “sincere effort to reduce terrorism.” The responsibility for this sentiment falls at the feat of so-called moderate organizations like CAIR that have consistently painted the FBI as having an anti-Muslim bias and the War on Terror as a war on Islam.
Anonymous FBI agents have told journalist Ronald Kessler about this problem. “They’re a closed group, a very, very closed group. It’s part of their culture that they want to settle the problem within their own communities. They’ve actually said that to us, which I then go crazy over,” one FBI agent told him.
Another FBI agent told Kessler about how a Muslim group asked that the agency’s director take a photo with them to combat anti-Muslim sentiment. The agent said he would try to get that done if the group provided information on extremists. The agent says the answer he received was, “That could never happen. We would lose our constituency. We could never admit to bringing someone to the FBI.”
Of course, there have been honorable Muslim informants that have helped protect the country, but they do run the risk of being alienated if exposed. The informant who helped foil the plot to attack Fort Dix says that he now has “nothing.” “For Muslims, we are all brothers and I betrayed a brother,” he explains. The hostility toward him has caused him to stop attending mosque and former Muslim business partners have turned on him. “They say, ‘You made your choice. You helped the American government. Why would we help you?‘” he said.
Genuinely moderate Muslims want to protect the country by cooperating fully with the government against the extremists in their midst. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the founder and President of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, told FrontPage that he supports King’s planned hearings and sees them as an opportunity for moderate Muslims.
“These hearings may finally allow Americans to witness the diversity of American-Muslims and begin a conversation that highlights the differences between those Muslims and their organizations who are in denial versus those who are reformists and modernists,” Dr. Jasser told FrontPage.
“The hearings have not even begun and groups like CAIR and MPAC [the Muslim Public Affairs Council] are hurling diversionary ad hominem attacks at its organizers,” he said. He added that the hearings may help stimulate discussion about promoting “a ‘modern Islam’ that separates mosque and state” as the “best antidote to the ever-increasing threat of Muslim radicalization.”
The nature of the terrorist threat has changed, as Attorney General Holder said. The U.S. must adapt because the enemy already has. These hearings are necessary to protect the country and Rep. King should be praised, not defamed, for holding them.