The congressman who hosted Geert Wilders at several events in Washington, D.C. last week is speaking out after two gunmen suspected of having ties to radical Islam opened fire outside of an event where the Dutch lawmaker spoke in Garland, Texas on Sunday.
Iowa Rep. Steve King told The Daily Caller that while he is surprised overall that the shooting occurred, “if someone would have told me that there was going to be a shooting someplace in America last night that’s the one place I could have named where it was likely to happen.”
“That’s a target-rich environment,” said King, a Republican who has been an outspoken critic of radical Islam.
Wilders was in Garland at the invitation of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which was holding a “Muhammad Art Exhibit.” The 51-year-old Wilders and AFDI president Pamela Geller presented a $12,500 check to the winner of the group’s first inaugural “Draw the Prophet” contest. The contest was set up as a response to January’s Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.
Sunday’s shooting occurred at around 7 p.m. local time when two men drove up to the venue and opened fire.
A security guard suffered minor injuries, while both assailants were fatally shot by Garland police. One of the men has been identified as Phoenix native Elton Simpson. Simpson’s Twitter account, from which he sent a message with the hashtag #TexasShooting shortly before the attack, is filled with radical Islamic rhetoric. (RELATED: Shooting In Texas Outside Of Muhammad Art Exhibit Attended By Geert Wilders)
He had been under FBI investigation since 2006 and was convicted in 2011 of making a false statement to the agency regarding plans to travel to Somalia in order to wage jihad. (RELATED: The FBI Was Watching One Of The ‘Draw The Prophet’ Shooters Since 2006)
King says the attack provides further evidence to support his and Wilders’ position on radical Islam.
“We are a superior culture, and I’m very glad to hear that said,” King told TheDC. “It doesn’t get said very much around Congress these days — maybe because I’m not saying it enough.”
King said that Wilders is “excellent” on reminding the Western world about “what happens to a culture and civilization if you apologize for who you are, and the idea that tolerance trumps your own value system.”
“He reminds the Western world that we’re under attack, and that the Islamists are committed to killing us,” King said of Wilders.
“He says he has no problem with Muslims, it’s the Islamists that he does have a problem with. I agree with that,” continued King, who met Wilders for the first time in person on a trip to the Netherlands earlier this year.
King helped arrange security for the politician’s stateside stay — a visit that would not have occurred had the House’s two Muslim members had their way.
King had harsh words for Minnesota’s Keith Ellison and Indiana’s Andre Carson, who on April 23 sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson asking them to block Wilders from entering the U.S. They argued that Wilders is Islamophobic and engages in hate speech. (RELATED: Muslim Congressmen Want To Block ‘Islamophobic’ Dutch Lawmaker From Entering The US)
“This level of intolerance on their part is just breathtaking,” King tells TheDC.
“I tolerate Ellison and Carson every day in the United States Congress, and they can tolerate a member of the Dutch parliament for one day in the United States Capitol,” he added, hearkening back to a confrontation he had with Ellison on the floor of the House.
“Keith Ellison confronted me and said I need to watch what I say because of the way the Muslim world interprets what I say,” King recalled. “And I retorted that he and Nancy Pelosi need to watch what they say because they are encouraging our enemies who, once they’re encouraged, they kill more Americans.”
“I think back on that, and the letter that he and Carson sent to Kerry — that’s outrageous, especially when it comes from people who are affiliating with those who have been investigated for being terrorists.”
Both Ellison and Carson have had ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case. The Holy Land Foundation was found guilty of funneling money and providing aid to the terrorist group Hamas.
Asked if he plans to confront Ellison and Carson in the wake of the shooting, King said he doesn’t believe doing so would do much good.
“They’re dug in; they are who they are,” he said. “There’s no amount of talking to Ellison or Carson that’s going to change their mind coming from me.”
An email request for comment sent to Ellison’s communications director Sunday night was not returned.
In his interview, King also spoke about the difficulty in arranging adequate security for Wilders during his D.C. visit.
“When he came to the United States, I was concerned about the security, because I knew what kind of level he needed,” said King, recalling his visit to the Netherlands earlier this year.
Wilders’ first appearance in Washington was last Wednesday at a weekly morning gathering of the Conservative Opportunity Society, which King chairs.
After, Wilders attended Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s address to a joint session of Congress and then a reception held in the Rayburn Building.
Thursday saw two events — a press conference held outside and a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club. King said that the press conference was the most daunting in terms of security organization. Besides Wilders’ personal bodyguards, Capitol Hill police provided extra personnel while a helicopter flew overhead.