Rep. Peter King to hold hearings on 'radicalization' of American Muslims, critics fear witchhuntBy Dave Goldiner
December 20, 2010
Rep. Peter King said Sunday he'll hold hearings on the "radicalization of the American Muslim community" - but some critics fear an anti-Islamic witchhunt.
King (R-L.I.) said a Congressional probe is needed because Al Qaeda has increasingly targeted Muslims living legally in the United States as potential terror recruits.
Despite the threat to their own community, King said, some Islamic clerics resist cooperating with investigators.
"We want to assess the extent of the radicalization of the Muslim community," he said. "It's clear to me there has not been sufficient cooperation."
"With Al Qaeda trying to recruit from within their community, it's important that they cooperate," said King, who will be chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security in the new Republican-controlled Congress. King's call drew fire from Muslim groups, who said they fear the hearings will only fuel bigotry and hatred.
"We're concerned that it'll become a new McCarthy-type hearing," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Joseph McCarthy was a GOP senator from Wisconsin who led a hunt for communists and their sympathizers in the 1950s that many considered abusive.
King said he's already been accused of being a bigot and worse - but insists he won't change course. The hearings could take place in late February and might include experts on Islam as well as law enforcement and Muslim leaders, if they accept his invitation.
King says he once had a close relationship with the Long Island Muslim community and was a regular visitor at a local mosque - but that changed.
"The overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding citizens," King said.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, King was disappointed that some Muslims refused to accept Al Qaeda was responsible.
Even when terrorists started trying to recruit Americans, Islamic clerics instructed their flocks to keep quiet, King said.
"It's extensive throughout the country," he said. "This will be an investigation into the issue."