WASHINGTON — The stage is set for the first of a string of controversial hearings into the radicalization of Muslim Americans convened by Long Island Congressman Peter King (R-Seaford), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
On a rainy Washington morning, hoards of media clamored the hall of the Cannon Office Building, which also houses the Washongton, DC offices of members of both the US House of Representatives and US Senate.
King arrived at 8:45 a.m. at the Homeland Security Committee room on Capitol Hill, but did not take questions from the media.
Anticipation has been high for King’s hearing. It has sparked a flurry of passionate demonstrations throughout Long Island and New York City in recent weeks.
On one side: those who dem the inquiries a “witch hunt,” exemplary of McCarthyism and anti-Muslim profiling.
On the other: those who believe the sessions are necessary in order to devise solutions to what King and members of the Obama administration consider the single-most dangerous threat to America’s national security, homegrown terrorism.
“Al-Qaida has adjusted its tactics, and that’s why traditional intelligence doesn’t work,” King tells the Press, in this week’s cover story. “They’re now recruiting people who are legally in the country, people beneath the radar screen, who are not involved in any type of radical activity. And the way we find them is by having people in the community bring them out. And that’s why I want the hearings, for people to know there is a real threat.”
The first speaker at the hearing to give testimony will be Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
In his opening statement, King said: “There is nothing radical or unAmerican holding these hearings.”