Lawmaker announces second hearing into Muslim-American radicalization

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Thursday announced the second in the House Homeland Security Committee’s series of hearings on radicalization within the American-Muslim community. 

The hearing, entitled “The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons” is slated for next Wednesday and is expected to focus closely on the Muslim population incarcerated in prisons throughout the country.

“We have seen cases in which inmates have been radicalized at the hands of already locked-up terrorists or by extremist imam chaplains,” said King in a statement.

“We will focus on a number of the serious cases in which radicalized current and former inmates have planned and launched attacks or attempted to join overseas Islamic terrorist organizations.”

King caused a public furor in March with his first hearing on the issue of radicalization, as nearly 100 of his Democratic House colleagues pleaded with him to cancel it. Critics of the hearing held that it would create further division between Muslim-Americans and government officials, including law enforcement agencies.

King called the hearing a success and said that it proved to be “informative and educational.” King had said all along that his intent was to spur a more vigorous conversation within the Muslim-Americans about ways in which it could better help to thwart radicalization efforts within their community.  

King received full backing from his leaders to address the issue, he said. And the 10-term lawmaker said he never wavered from his plan to hold the hearing, even in the face of a stream of threatening phone calls, some from overseas

An L.A. County sheriff testified, along with the father of an accused terrorist, an uncle of another accused terrorist and the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. The first Muslim elected to Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), also testified and at one point broke into tears as he discussed an American-Muslim man who helped save people in and around the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

King’s staff has not finalized the witness list for next Wednesday’s hearing, but the lawmaker said, “We will hear testimony from both U.S. and international experts on the issue and from those intimately involved in recent prison radicalization cases."