Seated alongside fellow members of the Homeland Security Committee at the head of a packed chamber of the Cannon office building on Capitol Hill, the committee’s chairman, Long Island’s lone Republican Congressman Peter King, set the tone of what is unfolding as an emotionally charged hearing on the radicalization of Muslim Americans.
WASHINGTON — Leaning over his microphone, King kicked off the session just after 9:30 a.m. with strong words: “There is nothing radical or un-American holding these hearings,” he declared, addressing charges from opponents and critics of the hearing that have ranged from accusations of McCarthyism to racial profiling of the Muslim American community.
He told the room it would be the first of many more hearings on the “Radicalization of Muslim Americans.”
“Let me make it clear today that I remain convinced that these hearings must go forward,” King continued. “And the they will.”
“To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee,” he added, is “to protect America from a terrorist attack.”
King, who has also come under fire in recent weeks for his involvement and support of the IRA, or Irish Republican Army–a recognized terrorist organization by the Irish and British governments–cited the Obama Administration’s continued talks about the threat of home-grown attacks against America.
“The threat level today is as high as it has been since Sept. 11 because of increased radicalization in our country,” King said, referring to testimony Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano gave one month ago.
The Long Island Republican said the Muslim-American community should discredit groups such as CAIR (Council on Islamic-American Relations) because the group was named as an “unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorist financing case involving the Holyland Foundation.”
King also mentioned recent planned attacks by Muslim-Americans as his reasoning why these hearings are essential for national security.
He cited the failed attempt by New York City Subway bomber Najibullah Zazi, the murder of 13 soldiers in the Fort Hood shooting of U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan and failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, as proof to look into the radicalization of Muslim-Americans.
Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) one of only two Muslims in Congress said, “Understanding the roots of demostic terrorism is the legitmate business of the House of Homeland Security.”
Ellison has been against King’s hearings because the ripple effect it will have on the Muslim-American community.
“When you assign their violent actions to the entire community you assign collective blame to a whole group,” Ellison said in his testimony.
Speaking on the case of Lake Grove resident Talat Hamdani’s son, a police cadet who died in the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, the Minneapolis Democratic Congressman became choked up and began to cry.
He left the chamber soon thereafter.
More testimony to come… To follow the coverage on Twitter, go to @LongIslandPress