Today, Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security issued the following statement on the terrorist attacks this week in France. In the attacks, Islamist terrorist and self-professed al-Qaeda member Mohamed Merah killed seven, including off-duty French soldiers and Jewish schoolchildren and their rabbi.
King said: "I commend French counterterrorism forces for their bravery and professionalism in killing this terrorist. Our prayers go out to the victims and their families. And we stand with one of our closest allies, France, against al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents.
"Sixty-seven years after the liberation of the concentration camps, it is unacceptable that Jewish children in the heart of Europe have again been murdered because of their faith -- this time by an Islamist extremist.
"These heinous attacks should serve as a warning to us here in the United States. Mohamed Merah and his attacks are stark examples of threats the Committee on Homeland Security has warned about over the past year, and that I have spoken of for some time.
"Last June, the Committee examined and highlighted the threat of Islamist radicalization in prisons. Merah was radicalized to Islamist extremism in French custody.
"In December, along with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, we investigated and warned of terror threats to, and within, our military. Three of Merah's victims were French soldiers. And Merah himself had tried, but failed, to join the French Army.
"Earlier this week, at a Committee hearing, the NYPD's Director of Intelligence Analysis spoke of the terror threats posed to Jewish targets in New York City, in light of past attacks against Jewish targets, and recent plots against Jewish schools specifically. Four of Merah's victims were Jews, targeted at their yeshiva.
"Additionally, Merah was reportedly detained in Afghanistan, but released to France. Merah should have instead been sent to Guantanamo Bay and held as an enemy combatant. Reports indicate that Merah was appropriately placed on the U.S. no-fly List, but the failure to use Guantanamo, as an available safe place to incapacitate terrorists, endangered us and our allies, with tragic results in this case.
"This and other examples clearly demonstrate that this Committee, in the 112th Congress, has been focusing on essential homeland security and counterterrorism issues. I am committed to continuing our focus on the threat that violent Islamist extremism poses to the U.S. homeland."