By Michelle Boorstein
Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) says his next hearing related to the radicalization of American Muslims will take place around late May or early June and will focus on people who adopt violent views while in U.S. prisons.
In a short interview Wednesday, King said "several" Americans accused of terrorism did so after converting to a radical form of Islam in jail. King said he "didn't want to prejudge" the subject, but had heard from corrections officials that this is a problem.
King is charged-up to continue his series after receiving what he said was the most positive response he's ever had in public service following the hearing he convened March 9 featuring testimony by relatives of Muslim radicals.
Back in his Long Island district the weekend after the well-publicized hearing, King said no matter where he went, from the local bagel shop to Dunkin Donuts to a flower show, people were asking for autographs and to be photographed together in order to praise him for calling the controversial hearing. "People stopped their cars, they were beeping -- the hearing did strike a nerve. It was really positive," he said.
Meanwhile, King's critics have continued to slam him for using his position as House Homeland Committee chair -- a huge megaphone -- to accuse Muslim-American leaders of not cooperating with law enforcement on issues of terrorism but not providing statistics or any law enforcement officials to back that up. He called two family members of Muslims who became violently radical who testified that some leaders in their cities turned a blind eye to the problem of radicalization.
When I asked King about whether the nature of opposition to him had changed, he sounded surprised. "I don't really have any" opposition -- other than Muslims who criticized him, he said. He said clergy who spoke out against his series of hearings were "School of the Americas" type -- a reference to activists who have protested a Pentagon-run training institute. "They'd be against me anyway," he said.