Rep. Pete King is right, say feds and cops: We don't get many tips from Muslim community
BY Michael Mcauliff, Rocco Parascandola and Alison Gendar
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Tuesday, March 8th 2011
Cops and federal agents agree with Rep. Pete King that they don't get a lot of tipsters from the Muslim community - but they say that's true of many other communities.
Counterterrorism and intelligence sources from the NYPD and FBI say law enforcement faces the same problem with the Mafia, drug cartels and the MS-13 gang.
"Criminals are criminals. It gets dicier because Muslim extremists wrap their work in religion, but the smokescreens, the silence and intimidation are similar," an FBI source said.
"What's different is the risk - the extent of the damage, the number of innocent people who can be hurt."
King has outraged many Muslim-Americans by convening hearings into homegrown radical Islamists and claiming the community has stonewalled terror investigations.
They say the Long Island Republican is on a witch hunt, and some critics have pointed out that he's gone to bat for members of the Irish Republican Army in the past.
He said his probe is no different than a hearing into the Mafia or another ethnicity-based group and that the U.S. must uncover the extent of jihadist recruitment on American soil.
As an example, he cited Queens-born terrorist Bryant Neal Vinas, who allegedly spoke at Long Island mosques about jihadist aspirations. No one told cops, and Vinas admitted to participating in Al Qaeda attacks on U.S. soldiers after his 2008 arrest in Pakistan.
But even some anti-terrorism cops are worried that King's push could backfire - by making moderate Muslims feel they are being scapegoated and more vulnerable to anti-American propaganda.
"When people hear 'witch hunt,' that can't be good for us," said an NYPD source.
King said he is aware he is treading on perilous ground and that an insensitive comment by a Homeland Security Committee member could be twisted into "official American policy" in jihadist propaganda.
"If it went beyond a certain line, I would have to intervene and say it's inappropriate and wrong," King said.