Incoming House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King of New York says he is pleased that Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration have had an “awakening” about the threat of homegrown Islamist terrorism.
Holder told ABC News Tuesday that homegrown terrorism “is one of the things that keeps [him] up at night,” noting that in the last two years, of the 126 individuals indicted on terrorism charges, 50 have been Americans.
“The ability to go into your basement, turn on your computer, find a site that has this kind of hatred spewed … they have an ability to take somebody who is perhaps just interested, perhaps just on the edge, and take them over to the other side,” Holder said, acknowledging the reach of Islamist radicals like Anwar al-Alawaki. Al-Alawaki, currently believed to be hiding in Yemen, is suspected to have inspired Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
King says he intends to open a congressional inquiry into the radicalization of American Muslims once the Republicans take control of the House Homeland Security Committee in the next Congress.
“There are two things we’re confronting,” King told The Daily Caller. “One is, that, Al Qaeda has pretty much realized that it’s very difficult to attack us from overseas, our defenses are good, we’ve gone nine years, a little bit of luck but a lot of skill, we’re not being attacked from overseas, what they’ve done is …is they’re now recruiting Muslims living here in the United States.”
King said that he is glad that Holder is finally coming to terms with the threat posed by radicalized domestic Muslims and the fact that terrorism was not just the fault of the Bush administration.
“I think that Eric Holder and other members of the administration came in with a built-in bias that somehow this was permanently George Bush and Dick Cheney’s fault. [They thought], ‘Once they were gone, once we stopped talking about Islamic terrorism and once we just reached out and showed that we were better than Bush and Cheney were, the terror threat would dissipate.’ Well, we see it’s more severe than ever, as severe as ever. And it’s right now here in our own country.”
King said that despite the fact that he is being demonized in the press by liberal detractors and groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (an un-indicted co-conspirator a Hamas terrorist funding trial), he has enjoyed a long and harmonious relationships with much of the Muslim American community. Now, with Holder acknowledging the threat of domestic Islamist terrorism, King is more confident that he will be able to make inroads into the problem of homegrown terrorism.
“It’s keeping Eric Holder awake and also if you’ve noticed in recent weeks he’s actually given speeches as to why he’s conducting operations in mosques and Muslim communities. Now if I had called for any of this, if I had asked a year ago for operations in mosques….I would have been branded a racist,” King said.
King expects hearings to begin in February.