Rep. King Talks About Threats of Terrorismujafedny.org
February 1, 2011
Representative Peter King, the influential new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told a UJA-Federation of New York audience January 31st that constant vigilance is needed to ward off the threat of Islamic terrorism worldwide, including in the New York metropolitan area.
New York City, including Long Island and Westchester County, is the biggest target in the world for Islamic terrorism, King said. “The threat is real,” he said, explaining that continuing strong law enforcement work in the region is key, as is utilizing other government resources for prevention.
“We can’t protect everyone everywhere, so we should go where the greatest threat is,” King said. He said his priority will be to make sure that government security grants are allocated to those with the largest needs, including to New York and Jewish groups.
King’s talk and Q&A session was part of the launch of UJA-Federation’s new Manhattan Government Relations Committee. The group will hold other briefings and meetings with government and elected officials, and participate in such events as the mission to Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 7th, said Karen Spar Kasner, chair of the new committee.
King, a Long Island congressman in his ninth term, also assessed developments in Egypt, a situation he called “absolutely vital to the United States.” King said, “The most we can hope for is that [President Hosni] Mubarak agrees to leave peacefully.” He said President Obama has handled the crisis well so far, and that the actions of the Egyptian military, the dominant force in the government, will be critical.
King said he was not an advocate of Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate being promoted as a leader of the opposition. King said ElBaradei has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood group and “at best would be a slightly hostile moderate.” King said Mubarek had been “an extraordinary ally” for the United States but had been “deficient” in terms of his domestic audience. He said King Abdullah II of Jordan, by comparison, had been more successful in orchestrating some liberalization in his country.
Lynn Zises, a member of the new committee, introduced King and thanked him “for his steadfast support.” King said Israel “is our number-one ally in the Mideast, if not the world” and said cooperation between the two countries on security matters “is seamless.” Speaking about the Mideast peace process, King said President Obama had made some missteps but his relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has improved. But King said the peace process is on hold again indefinitely because of the Egypt situation.
Further outlining his agenda as the incoming head of the key House Security Committee, King said he planned a series of hearings on the threat of Islamic terrorism in the United States, saying “there’s definitely recruiting within the United States” by Al-Qaeda.
King said he’s been criticized for setting the hearings, due to start in March, by people who think they will unfairly stigmatize Muslims. King said that “the overwhelming majority of Muslims are good people,” but he criticized some for not acting clearly enough to confront and combat terrorism.
King said other priority areas for his committee would include cybersecurity and chemical plant security.