House Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King said today he would “not back down” from his hearings into Muslim American radicalization, despite pushback from Democrats and liberals who say the recent right-wing terrorist attack in Norway is proof the congressman is unfairly targeting the Muslim community.
“Let me make this clear to the New York Times and their acolytes in the politically correct media. I will not back down from holding these hearings,” King said at the beginning of his third hearing on Muslim radicalization, which is focused on the threat of Al-Shabaab recruitment of American citizens.
In addition to the Times, Democratic members of the Homeland Security Committee have also denounced King’s hearings. During opening remarks today, ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson referred to the lone wolf attack in Norway and asked that the hearings “be broadened to include a look at the real and present threat of domestic violent extremism.”
“It is too early to say what the people of Norway will take from this horrific national tragedy,” said Thompson. “But for me, this incident makes plain that the madness of terrorism cannot be neatly confined to any one religion, one people or one nation. Let me repeat what I said before we began. This committee needs to examine the threat from lone wolves in our midst.”
King noted Thompson had four years to look into “lone wolf” terrorism when the Democrats controlled the committee, but he neglected to do so. In addition to helping understand the threat of radicalization, King said the hearings are also “liberating and empowering” to members of the Muslim community who are concerned about extremism in their midst.
King is right to continue his hearings on Muslim radicalization. One act of terrorism in Norway does not in any way diminish the well-documented threat of sophisticated, international Muslim terrorist organizations that are attempting to radicalize and recruit American Muslims to their cause. And that couldn’t have been clearer than at the hearing today, when investigators revealed that more than 40 Americans have joined the Somali terror group Al-Shabaab.
Of course, the risk of lone wolf terrorism (which the act in Norway so far appears to be) will always exist. At the moment, there is no evidence the Norwegian suspect Anders Breivik was working under any umbrella organization. If authorities discover a network of right-wing terrorists seeking to wage war against the U.S., then its recruitment methods should be investigated by Congress. But until then, let’s focus on the threats we already have evidence of.