In the post-9/11 era, bigotry and xenophobia against Islam and Muslims have become a rewarding profession for some people. Peter King, the New York Congressman who now chairs the powerful Homeland Security Committee, is a hawkish card-carrying member of that dastardly group of zealots, xenophobes, intellectually disadvantaged retards and low-lives who have been using the bogeyman of Islam to make a filthy living. He has been an anti-Islamic Christian crusader for quite some time. His book 'Vale of Tears', though presented as a work of fiction, is a sufficient testimony of how low he would sink in an attempt to attain publicity. As noted by many reviewers, it takes an enormous amount of evil in someone's heart to write such a book. Fortunately, the book was a total flop with harsh reviews.
Last Thursday, King opened the first of a series of committee hearings into the so-called threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism and the bogus allegation that American Muslims have failed to cooperate with law enforcement efforts to foil terrorist plots. As much as you can't teach an old dog new tricks so is the case with perennial bigots like Peter King. No matter how abundant the evidences are to prove otherwise, like his more notorious spiritual mentor - fellow Republican, former Attorney General Ashcroft (who violated the Fourth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens by using material-witness laws as a pretext for arresting and detaining suspects without probable cause), King behaves like a drooling, fixated hound-dog on scent: other crucial disasters may be happening all around him, but his eyes and nose are locked onto the imaginary American Muslim radicals.
To King, almost every American Muslim is a suspected radical. In 2004, King claimed in an interview with conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity that 'no American Muslim leaders are cooperating in the war on terror,' and that '80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists ... I'll stand by that number of 85 percent. This is an enemy living amongst us.' In a September 2007 interview with the website Politico.com, Congressman King said that "There are too many mosques in this country... There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them." It is, therefore, no shocker that the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim rights group, had called King's comments as 'Islamophobic bigotry.'
So what's new with King's demonic agenda against American Muslims? The New York Times editorial stated that in this hearing, King offered not a scintilla of substantiation for his charges that more than 80 percent of American mosques are run by radicals - 'an enemy living amongst us.' Nor did he offer an iota of evidence to support his assertions that "law enforcement officials throughout the country told me they received little or - in most cases - no cooperation from Muslim leaders and imams." He ignored a study conducted last month from the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security which indicated that in a hefty 40 percent of domestic extremist plots that were thwarted, law enforcement had help from Muslims. He disingenuously hides the fact that the father of the teenage 'underwear bomber' had warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria about his son. Nor does he mention that the first person to alert the police of a suspected SUV belonging to Faisal Shahzad, parked in the Time Square of Manhattan, containing bomb materials, was a Muslim street vendor.
Despite his claims of insider law enforcement knowledge, King didn't call a single police witness to testify. The Democratic minority did, allowing Sheriff Leroy Baca of Los Angeles to tell that there was nothing to support King's false claims of non-cooperation by American Muslims. Bennie Thompson, the ranking member of the committee which Congressman King heads, has responded by saying that none of these [law enforcement and intelligence] officials have backed King's assertions that the Muslim community has not been helpful in thwarting terrorist attacks. The Triangle Center's work also debunks King's assertion that Muslim leaders are not speaking out against terrorism. They are. The reason that such activities fly below the news radar is because Muslims have no national leader and no media channel. Muslim community voices are often ignored.
As expected, King did not call any large established Muslim American organization to testify. He preferred to feature two aggrieved witnesses offering anecdotal tales about radicalized relatives, as if that proved his case. By the end of hearing, King only proved that there is nothing courageous about pandering or sowing hatred and fear. There is a name for this dangerous obsession - it's called McCarthyism. He has only proved what a bigoted moron he has become, and nothing else. Simply said, the hearing was an abuse of his public office.
This Congressional hearing is rather absurd given the fact that not too long ago Peter King was a fervent, unapologetic supporter of the terrorist group, the IRA, responsible for killing thousands - including hundreds of civilians in random bombings in bars and department stores. In 1982, speaking at a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County, New York, King said: "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who, this very moment, are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry." In 1985, he convened a press conference before the start of New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade (for which he was the Grand Marshal), and offered a defiant defense of the IRA: "As we march up the avenue and share all the joy," he declared, "let us never forget the men and women who are suffering and, most of all, the men and women who are fighting." Regarding the 30 years of violence during which the IRA killed over 1700 people, including over 600 civilians, King said, "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it." King compared IRA leader Gerry Adams to George Washington and asserted that the 'British government is a murder machine.'
King was friendly with Michael McKevitt, a senior leader of the IRA in charge of arms acquisition, esp. those from the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi during the mid-1980's. He was also very close to the IRA's former Operations Officer in Belfast, Anto Murray, who was convicted in 1990 of kidnapping a suspected British spy. As Belfast Operations Officer, Murray planned or authorized every IRA bombing, shooting and killing in the city. King became involved with NORAID, an organization financing IRA activities and providing them with weapons.
So, King's bogus allegations against American Muslims show what an evil hypocrite he is. He should be tried in the International Court for sponsoring terrorism that has killed hundreds of innocent civilians.
King criticized the activities of WikiLeaks and in December 2010 suggested that they be designated a "terrorist organization" and treated as such by U.S. agencies. King opposes the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. He voted for the Wall Street bailout and has been a vocal opponent of illegal immigration. Yet in 2008, King spoke in defense of bail for a fugitive IRA member, Pl Brennan, who had escaped from prison in the UK and been detained in Texas 15 years later. The IRA member, who had broken out of prison during the Maze Prison escape and entered America illegally, was being held without bail after his work permit expired.
As can be seen, King's is a psychotic case that requires serious psychiatric help. He opposed Senator John McCain's calls for an end to torture methods used during terrorist suspect interrogations. King has supported the Iraq War since 2002. As The New York Times pointed out King was "the Patriot Act's most fervent fan."
The American Muslim community is genuinely concerned about personal safety and security as any other Americans are. They are doing their best to erase the stigma now so conveniently labeled against them by bigots and xenophobes for the insane activities of a few misguided folks. It is not the mosques that have produced the likes of Faisal Shahzad and Major Nidal but the Internet with global reach. It would be foolish to ignore the latter's impact on how information is gathered and absorbed.
It would be foolish to say that no terrorist threat exists in the USA. Surely, they do exist. However, the more complex and worthy issue of threats to the nation come not from radical American Muslims but from a wide array of homegrown militants that law enforcement officials must deal with -- from neo-Nazi militias to wannabe Christian jihadists.
As rightly pointed out in the New York Times editorial of March 11, not much spreads fear and bigotry faster than a public official intent on playing the politics of division. Congressman King demeaned the crucial issue of homeland security - building a Congressional hearing around his foolish, provocative and hurtful claims of widespread radicalization of Muslim Americans. He should be censured by the Congress for his evil McCarthy-like tactics that tried to demonize a small peaceful community.
Dr Habib Siddiqui has authored nine books. His book: "Democracy, Politics and Terrorism - America's Quest for Security in the Age of Insecurity" is available at Amazon.com.