King in UK to testify about radicalization

Sep 13, 2011 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings

by SID CASSESE
Newsday

Rep. Peter King is in London Tuesday where he is expected to testify before Parliament on the radicalization of American Muslims, after generating controversy in the United States with a series of hearings on the subject.

"The United Kingdom struggles with this same threat within its own borders, just more so with a larger proportion of Muslims there and whole communities of them hostile," King said Monday in a telephone interview from London.

King (R-Seaford) testifies before the Home Affairs Committee, chaired by Rt. Hon. Keith Vaz, in its inquiry into the "Roots of Violent Radicalisation."

In a statement, Vaz called the hearing "a unique opportunity to create an unbreakable bond between Westminster and Washington." Vaz noted that King has held hearings on radicalization in prisons, "one of our particular interests."

He said this is just the beginning of cooperation between the two committees. But King's hearings -- a general one on radicalization in March, another on Muslims in prisons in June and then on Al Shabaab (Somalian) recruitment in July -- have generated opposition from some Muslim-American and activist groups.

"If you're really looking at terrorism, why look at only one group," asked Habeeb Ahmed, board chairman of the Islamic Center of Long Island. "Why make all or most Muslims terrorists? There is no truth to this."

King has acknowledged opposition to his focus but said it would be a "craven surrender to political correctness" to back down. King has said "the overwhelming majority of Muslim-Americans are outstanding people. [but] the reality is that radicalization within . . . [that] community by al-Qaeda and its affiliates is a real threat to the securing of our homeland."

King is scheduled to be the leadoff witness for about an hour this morning. He said he plans another House hearing this fall, most likely on Muslim recruitment in the United States military.