Strike Three? Rep. King's Latest Hearing Takes Another Swing At American Muslims

July 22, 2011 11:30 am ET — Brian Powell

Rep. Peter King

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is continuing his campaign of fruitless investigations into the American Muslim community next week with a hearing entitled: "Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland." Once again, King begins with a fundamentally sound premise for investigation — here, the recruitment of young Americans into a rapidly growing terror organization in Somalia — and twists it into a generalized attack on the Muslim community based on a false statement.

"There has not been sufficient cooperation from mosque leaders," said King in a statement. "In at least one instance, a Minnesota imam told the desperate family of a missing young man not to cooperate with the FBI."

Putting aside King's citation of "one instance" as evidence for his broad claim of a lack of cooperation, the investigation of the recruitment of Minnesota youths by al-Shabaab (which presumably was the impetus for King's hearing) is actually being used as a national model for future engagement between law enforcement and Muslim and other minority communities. From the National Journal:

[W]hat developed during the U.S. investigation was a two-way cultural exchange that the Justice Department is now trying to replicate nationwide. "We basically provided the Somali-American community with a 'Civics 101' lesson, explaining how our criminal-justice system works, telling them what was and was not a federal crime, and answering their concerns about the immigration system and suspicions that they were being profiled,"[U.S. Attorney B. Todd] Jones said in an interview. "At the same time, we learned a lot about the Somali community, about their clan structure and approach to Islam. In the process of developing those personal relationships and trust, we also hit on an important point of commonality: We are all parents, and all parents are worried about bad things happening to their kids."

That's the kind of trust that could keep federal investigators apprised of threats lurking in their communities, enabling them to head off plots to bomb tree-lighting ceremonies, Times Square crowds, and Christmas Day airline flights.

The Star Tribune has likewise reported, "In Minneapolis, FBI Special Agent Ralph Boelter, who investigated the Somalis who fled Minnesota to join the al-Shabab terror group, said Muslim-Americans couldn't have been more helpful."

This isn't the first time that King has tried to make the argument that the broader Muslim-American community is guilty of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement. He's repeated the claims over and over again; however, King's biases don't hold up in the light of day.

Law enforcement officials around the country have praised the cooperation they've received from the Muslim community. Furthermore, academic studies show that tips from Muslim Americans are the "largest single source of initial information."