Representative Peter King’s third installment in a series of hearings examining domestic Muslim radicalization, held Wednesday on Capitol Hill, didn’t have a particularly inflammatory topic—the committee was exploring the real, albeit rather minor, problem of radicalization among Somali-Americans. But ever the showman, King began the hearing by throwing some bloody meat to the packed hearing room and the conservative media that lay beyond.
In Monday’s New York Times, columnist Roger Cohen labeled King an “ideological fellow traveler” of Anders Breivik, the Oslo shooter, because King’s frequent Islamophobia. (Cohen didn’t get specific, but for example, King has said there are “too many mosques in this country.”)
In his opening remarks Wednesday, King tore into the newspaper. “I note that certain elements of the politically correct media, most egregiously the vacuous ideologues at the New York Times, are shamelessly attempting to exploit the horrific tragedy in Norway to cause me to refocus these hearings away from Muslim-American radicalization,” King said.
“If they had even a semblance of intellectual honesty, the Times and the others would know and admit that there is no equivalency in the threat to our homeland from a deranged gunman and the international terror apparatus of Al Qaeda and its affiliates who are recruiting people in this country and have murdered thousands of Americans in their jihad attacks.”
King then went on to characterize his hearings as “liberating and empowering” to “many Muslim-Americans” who “are now able to come forward,” and closed by invoking the victims of the September 11 attacks.
From there, the hearing didn’t have too many fireworks—committee members questioned law enforcement officials and other experts about the recruiting efforts of Al Shabaab, a group fighting to overthrow the Somali government. Al Shabaab has successfully recruited about forty Somalis from the Minneapolis area to join their cause, including Shirwa Ahmed, who drove a truck bomb into a Somali government building in 2008.