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MSNBC Scarborough Country - Transcript

Location: Unknown


March 9, 2004 Tuesday


BYLINE: Steve Emerson; Flavia Colgan; Joe Scarborough

GUESTS: Sarah Eltantawi; Peter King; Mark Mellman; Ralph Reed; Jennifer Giroux; Montel Williams; Jon Voight

SCARBOROUGH: Mike nails it. Good job, Mike.

Our next guest says nearly every mosque in America is being run by Islamic extremists.

Congressman Peter King, welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

And I want to read the statement that created an uproar. In February, you said-quote-"85 percent of the mosques have extremist leadership in this country," adding-quote-"most Muslims, the overwhelming majority of Muslims, are loyal Americans."

Peter King, do you still stand by that statement, that 85 percent of the mosques in America are run by Muslim extremists?

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Yes, Joe, I do. And it's not something I say with great any sense of pride, but I do.

I can give you just a few examples. Just several years ago, Shaykh Kabbani, who is the head of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, when he was speaking at the State Department, said that more than 80 percent of the mosques were controlled by extremists. And from all I've seen over the last four or five years, the situation has even gotten worse.

The mosque in my own area on Long Island, you have the interfaith director, who was always appearing on television, he was saying more than a month after September 11 that Mohamed Atta was alive, that his passport had been stolen, that the media should be looking at the Zionists-the world Zionist network. He was saying that Muslim and Arabs could not have been involved in the World Trade Center, and not one Muslim rebuked him.

And as I began to look into it, I found more and more statements like that being made. Now, I consider that to be extremist. I consider that to be irresponsible. In an area such as mine, where I had almost 400 people in the surrounding area of that mosque who were killed on September 11, and to have a very well known Muslim leader never being rebuked, talking about Zionists being behind it, talking about the FBI somehow being involved, all of these types of conspiracy, extremist rhetoric.

And, unfortunately, that's typical, all too typical, of what goes on in many Muslim organizations. And I go back to what Shaykh Kabbani said, where 80 percent back in 1999. I see no reason to think why that hasn't gone up over the past four or five years.

Sarah Eltantawi, you are the communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, representing American Muslims.

Respond to Peter King's statement.

SARAH ELTANTAWI, MUSLIM PUBLIC AFFAIRS COUNCIL: You know, it's one of the most shameless and irresponsible uses of taxpayer money and the backs of innocent American Muslims to promote his latest work of fiction.

Let's take what he just said, for example; 80 percent, 85 percent of Muslim leadership are extremists because of the words of Shaykh Kabbani. Who is Shaykh Kabbani? I've heard of Robert Mueller, the FBI director, who has repeatedly said that the American Muslim and Arab-American community have been instrumental in helping us with our counterterrorism effort since 9/11.

The list of activities that goes on with American Muslim organizations working with local and federal law enforcement to help with counterterrorism efforts is endless. I can go in my personal calendar and the calendar of MPAC two weeks in either direction. Two weeks ago, I was in Washington, D.C. meeting with the FBI and meeting with a major American university and leadership of the Muslim community, talking about how we can work together in partnership.

On the other coast tomorrow, the Los Angeles branch of our office is planning a forum with the FBI and with local law enforcement and with the community to talk about bridging the gap of communication this. This goes on all over the country.

SCARBOROUGH: Congressman, respond to that.

KING: Yes, first of all, I've spoken to many law enforcement officials at all levels. And what they will tell you is, they're not getting the level of cooperation.


KING: When you see indictments...

ELTANTAWI: I need to know details.

KING: When you see indictments come out, except for in Lackawanna, where there was some cooperation, when see other indictments coming up, there's no inside information. It's all being gathered from the outside. When you see, again


ELTANTAWI: That's simply incorrect.

KING: I'm not going to tell you the names of these people. I'm telling you that my information and from my analysis and from talking to them, and I will stand by that.

And I go back to you. Who denounced Ghazi Khankan, who is a CAIR official and one of the leading Muslims in New York when he was saying Mohamed Atta was still alive? Who was denouncing him when he said there was a Zionist conspiracy? No one. And that's the type of irresponsible leadership that I'm talking about.

ELTANTAWI: Sir, this is so irresponsible.


KING: I'm asking you. I'm asking you. Well, I'm asking you.


ELTANTAWI: You're a congressman from Long island in New York.

I have been in contact with the leadership of the largest mosque in Long Island, the leadership that you were just talking about. They have invited you personally, sir, to speak to their congregation several times. You have ignored them.

KING: OK, see, you're wrong.


KING: You don't know what you're talking about.

ELTANTAWI: They have asked you repeatedly. They had a plaque honoring 9/11 victims and asked you to go to come to the commemoration. You ignored them.


KING: You have no idea what you're talking about.


ELTANTAWI: Sir, you are not serving your constituents in your district. What do you know about the rest of the country?


SCARBOROUGH: Respond quickly, because I've got to bring in Steve Emerson.

KING: Let me tell you, I had students from the mosques intern in my office. I went to the weddings of daughters of officials in that mosque. I spoke at that mosque many times.

ELTANTAWI: Well, then I'm surprised you're on television expunging their patriotism.


KING: No, don't interrupt me.

I refuse to go back to that mosque until they renounce their statements the Zionists, Mohamed Atta being alive and suggesting...


ELTANTAWI: Well, they're in your district, sir.


SCARBOROUGH: Let me pull in Steve Emerson.

Steve, obviously, we have a very, very heated debate here. Tell me, the congressman has put out a shocking figure; 85 percent extremists. He quoted 80 percent from 1999 report. Tell me, is there a problem out there?

STEVE EMERSON, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Look, there's no doubt there's a problem.

And, unfortunately, extremists and terrorists don't register and admit their views. And the reality is that the institutional leadership in the United States of Islamic groups and institutions are tied to a radical agenda. It doesn't mean they're necessarily terrorists, but given the fact over the last 2 ½ years since 9/11, we've seen indictments, investigations, prosecutions, grand juries, search warrants throughout the United States showing the fact that Islamic groups that hid under the protection of being a civil rights group or nonprofit status were actually fronts for terrorists, in Tampa, in Seattle, in Chicago, Upstate New York.

There is a real problem.


SCARBOROUGH: So, Steve Emerson, what does the government do?

EMERSON: The fact is, right now, it's not illegal, first of all, to be an extremist. There are people that say death to America in the United States.

In fact, Ms. Eltantawi's group, Muslim Public Affairs Council, issued a report several years ago saying that the 1983 Marine barracks explosion against the United States was an act of resistance that should be applauded. Now, that's not illegal. But it's extremist and it needs to be exposed. And her notion that somehow the congressman is shameless because he talks about the extremist leadership, she's basically deflecting it, like David Duke would deflect any criticism, by saying he's a victim of hate crimes.

SCARBOROUGH: OK, unfortunately, we're going to have to leave it there. We're going to call all of you back, though, because I want Sarah to respond to that later.

Sarah, thank you for being with us. Steve Emerson, thank you so much. Congressman Peter King, thank you.

I'll tell you what. This is a heated and extremely important debate we've got to follow up on.

But coming up next, 15,000 hockey fans witnessed a mugging on ice, as Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore's neck. Is hockey waiting until somebody gets killed to crack down on fighting?

That very violent story is coming up next.


SCARBOROUGH: Here's that brutal mugging on tape. And we're going to tell you all about it tomorrow night and how he's doing. That's tomorrow night on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

Have a good night.

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