Congressman Peter King said Wednesday a man identified in a plot to give al-Qaida vital information about the Long Island Rail Road and the city's subway system is an example of "homegrown terrorism."
"This shows that New York and Long Island are the number one target of the terrorists and that our mass transit system is a top target," said King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security committee.
While the Long Island Rail Road and city subways are "very hard to defend" because of their numerous stations and sheer size, King said law enforcement is doing the best job possible in defending them.
But King also repeated his earlier criticisms that Long Island mosques - some of which he said are under surveillance by law enforcement - are fostering extremist views linked to terrorism. Islamic groups have refuted King's criticisms and said they should not be unfairly singled out.
"The real threat are these homegrown terrorists who are living in our midst," King said. Although he stressed that local mosques are not involved in criminal activity, King said they are not doing enough to discourage local members from extremist views.
However, Omar Chaudhry, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, said his group does meet regularly with local police and actually records its services to identify any inflammatory statements that may be made.
"I understand Peter King's concerns, both as an American and someone who rides the LIRR," Chaudhry said. "But Peter King needs to separate the good guys from the bad guys, and we're doing that."
The FBI told Newsday in April its investigations target individuals, not organizations and it does not single out mosques or other houses of worship for investigation.