MS. COLBY: Well, there's a new subway ad campaign, and it is stirring up some controversy in New York City. The ads promote Islam, and they're expected to debut during the same week we mark seven years since September 11th and the attacks. They're sponsored by an organization called The Islamic Circle of North America. The feds say one of the group's supporters has terror ties and also served as a character witness for the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Joining me now, New York Congressman Peter King. He's a ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Congressman King, good morning.
REP. KING: Thank you, Jamie. Thank you.
MS. COLBY: Let me ask you initially about the group that's behind the ads, The Islamic Circle of North America. Is this a group that is suspicious?
REP. KING: I think it is. I think it's certainly a group which has extremist ties. It's a group which, to me, represents a more extreme form of Islam. And the fact that they are so heavily engaged with an imam such as Wahhaj, to me, raises very, very serious questions about them.
MS. COLBY: Siraj Wahhaj did testify in the trial of Sheikh Abdel-Rahman, the terrorist sheikh in the 1993 bombing. He also does a YouTube video promoting this campaign saying, talk to a real Muslim. And he has said he wants all of the United States to convert to Islam. How are these posters getting up in the subways?
REP. KING: Jamie, to me this is absolutely disgraceful. It's a total capitulation to political correctness. A person like Wahhaj who, as you said, was a character witness for the "Blind Sheikh," he has said that the FBI and the CIA are the real terrorists. He has said that democracy will crumble and Islam will prevail in the United States.
What's happening here is you have ads which by themselves are not necessarily controversial, but they give a cloak of respectability, of credibility to people such as Wahhaj. And I believe for a government entity such as the MTA, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to be giving that type of legitimacy to Wahhaj, I mean, it's their obligation to pierce this phony veil of credibility. And these ads are going to be going up at the same time we're observing the seventh anniversary of the World Trade Center bombings. And they are front for an imam who was a character witness for the "Blind Sheikh." I mean, this is absolute madness.
MS. COLBY: And on a list of unindicted co-conspirators, I should add -- Wahhaj.
But I'll tell you what the MTA told us because we called, my producer and I actually. And the MTA says, well, you know what, we're just responsible for what the ad says -- which like you said, they were very careful to choose language that's not offensive -- it's not our responsibility to know the motive or go behind ads.
But clearly, these are meant to get people to pick up the phone and convert.
REP. KING: Right. I totally disagree with the MTA. I have sent a letter to the MTA demanding the ads be taken down. A government organization, a government entity has the obligation to look behind the veil, to look behind who's really with these ads. If this was an ad put up by someone like David Duke, even if the ad itself was inoffensive, the fact is if you knew David Duke was behind it, a government entity shouldn't allow it to go up.
This is not a First Amendment issue, there was no obligation to put ads up. And the MTA has taken ads down in the past, which were found to be, for instance, sexually offensive. So this is wrong, and the MTA is caving in here.
MS. COLBY: Right. And they took $48,000 for just that one month. I'll tell you, you're on the Homeland Security Committee, I know how hard you work on it. If you're concerned, I'm concerned. Thanks for talking to us about it and writing that letter to the MTA.
REP. KING: Thank you, Jamie.
MS. COLBY: Good to see you, Congressman.
REP. KING: Thank you.