CNN PAULA ZAHN NOW - Transcript
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ZAHN: And joining me now, the man stirring up all the controversy, Representative Peter King.
Representative King, I want to start off by reading from a letter that you wrote to your constituents this month. And you said, "Because I have put aside political correctness and spoken out against these radical leaders, I have been denounced by Muslim organizations as a Muslim hater."
Are you a Muslim hater?
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Absolutely not. In fact, I work very closely with a number of Muslims.
But you were talking there to the Islamic Center of Long Island, which I actually had a very close relationship prior to September 11. But, despite what people like Dr. Khan were telling you tonight, the fact is, throughout the fall of 2001, people like Ghazi Khankan, who was the interfaith director of that mosque, said that there was no proof that al Qaeda or Muslims had attacked. The mosque -- he said that Mohamed Atta was alive and well in Emirates, that two of the other hijackers were alive in Saudi Arabia, that the FBI knew this and was covering it up.
And he also said that the Zionists, the Jews, could well have been responsible for it. The co-president of that mosque was peddling the rumor that Mossad was behind it all.
Dr. Khan, who you saw tonight, was the president-elect at the time and the most prominent spokesman at the mosque. He never once, during that entire time, in any way rebuked Ghazi Khankan, who stayed on as the interfaith director, and today, as an individual, is still saying the Mossad could have been behind the attacks.
My basis for the 85 percent was Sheikh Kabbani, who's one of the leading Muslims in this country, back in the year 2000, said that he thought at least 80 percent of the mosques were taken over by extremist leaders, by radical Muslims.
ZAHN: All right.
KING: And that has been my experience.
ZAHN: But we heard him also say those numbers are absolutely preposterous. Do you still stand by that 85 percent statistic?
KING: I'm saying that Sheikh Kabbani, who was -- again, he -- he testified back in the year 2000 and said that.
And I'm telling you I know of any number of mosques in New York where the police are very concerned about them, where there are radicals in there. And, absolutely, yes, I stand by that number. It was 80 percent back in 2000. Based on the radicalization since then, it has to be -- I have no doubt, I have problem at all in saying it's 85 percent. If it's not 85, it's still 80.
ZAHN: All right.
Let me close with this. You just heard, in Jason Carroll's piece, that -- that Muslim leaders are accusing you of stoking this kind of fear to get elected and fund your campaign.
ZAHN: Your reaction to that.
KING: Absolutely untrue. I have been saying this...
ZAHN: Your opponent thinks that's the case.
KING: I have been saying this -- he can say what he wants.
I have been saying this for a number of years. I have been in this debate with people like Dr. Khan and the Islamic Center of Long Island going back two, three, four years. They -- what they did was absolutely outrageous. I have said this time and time again. This is nothing new.
What I have been saying now is consistent with what I have been saying for the last several years. And Dr. Khan comes out a mosque, where his interfaith director said that the CIA and the FBI were behind what was happening. They knew that Mohamed Atta was still alive, that he knew that the other two hijackers were still alive in Saudi Arabia. And he implied that the Zionists -- that's the Jews, the Israelis -- were behind that attack. Dr. Khan never once rebuked him -- never once.
ZAHN: All right, we have got to leave it there.
Congressman King, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
KING: Thank you, Paula.
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