By Katie Glueck
Rep. Peter King is calling for greater law enforcement focus on Muslim communities, arguing that authorities should put aside what is "politically correct" and recognize that America faces major threats from Islamic terrorism.
"Obviously the main international base, the terrorist threats are coming from the Muslim community," King (R-N.Y.) told POLITICO on Saturday. "There have been 16 terror plots against New York [since Sept. 11, 2001], all Islamist-based. We're at war with Islamic terrorism. It's coming from people within the Muslim community by the terrorists coming from that community, just like the mafia comes from Italian communities."
King, the former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, now leads the sub-committee on counterterrorism and intelligence. He spoke to POLITICO a day after the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were subdued: Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in clashes with law enforcement, while his younger brother, Dzhokar, was taken into custody and sent to the hospital following a stand-off with police Friday night.
"I think these two obviously were Islamic terrorists motivated by Islamist views," said King, who also noted in the interview that he thinks the bulk of Muslim Americans are good people.
He said that while al Qaeda and other groups now have limited abilities to launch attacks from outside the country, people within the United States, possibly working with outside groups, can stay under federal law enforcement's radar, as the Boston Marathon suspects may have done, he said. The FBI did interview Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, but the case didn't significantly advance.
Stepping up local vigilance is key, added King, who has held controversial hearings before on "radical Islam." He pointed to New York law enforcement, noting that there are special units devoted to counterterrorism, and that authorities aren't afraid to keep tabs on certain communities.
"NYPD [does] monitor the community, capture people, and they are not politically correct, they do what has to be done," he said. "When you're going after the mafia you go to Italian communities If you're looking for Islamic terrorism, you focus on Muslim communities."