By Tim Mak
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) says that a new Pew Research Study shows the need for continued congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization in America, after the poll found 21 percent of Muslims have observed support for extremism in their communities.
"I don't rely on polls, but the fact that 21 percent have seen extremism in their communities reinforces the need for the hearings," King told POLITICO.
King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, announced in December 2010 that he would hold hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims.
To date, King has held three hearings: examining the extent of radicalization in the Muslim-American community; looking at radicalization in the prison system; and addressing American recruitment by Al-Shabaab, a group of militants based in Somalia.
King's office told POLITICO that he intends to hold further hearings over the next year, but none have yet been scheduled.
The Long Island lawmaker says he doesn't believe that the number of radicalized Muslims is very large, and emphasized that he thought most were loyal Americans.
However, he said he was alarmed at the fact that only 43 percent of those surveyed viewed the country's ongoing anti-terrorist efforts as "sincere."
"I've always said that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are good Americans [but] I'm concerned that only 43 percent of Muslims see anti-terrorism programs are "sincere'. I don't know what world they're living in it's very disappointing," King said.
Asked if Muslims have legitimate grounds to feel harassed or targeted, King said: "Absolutely not. No more than any Irishman should have felt targeted when the FBI was going into Irish bars. The fact is that al-Qaeda is attempting to recruit American Muslims Some people just want to be perpetual victims."
In his view, the Muslim community should be most concerned with finding out who in their community supports al-Qaeda.
"There is a small percentage of American Muslims who are sympathetic to al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda is trying to recruit them. They are the ones we should be looking for -- the American Muslim community should be at the forefront of trying to stop them, because they would be in their community," said King. "What they should be doing is saying that they enthusiastically support these investigations."