FLASHBACK: Anti-Muslim Hardliner Rep. Peter King's Past Support For The IRA

December 21, 2010 2:39 pm ET

Incoming Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is widely known for his anti-Muslim views. In the years since 9/11, King has striven to link the American Muslim community to extremism, stating that up to 85 percent of mosques are run by extremist leaders and accusing leaders in "mainstream Islam" of being uncooperative with anti-terror efforts. Most recently, King has pledged to hold hearings on the "radicalization of the American Muslim community," sanctimoniously suggesting that he'll do so "on behalf of Muslims." Yet King's previously strident support for the Irish Republican Army — the terrorist group responsible for countless bombings and murders during the decades of violent conflict in Northern Ireland — makes it clear that not all terrorists are equal in King's eyes. Not only did King fundraise for IRA-linked groups, but he also publicly touted the IRA as "the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland" and pledged support for the "brave men and women" of the IRA who were "carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism." Although King denounced the IRA after 9/11, he continued to express sympathy for the group and its members.

King Holds Extreme Views On The Muslim Community's Links To Terrorism

King Wants To Hold Hearings On The "Radicalization Of The American Muslim Community." From a Newsday op-ed by Rep. Peter King: "Earlier this month, I was elected by the House Republican Conference to be chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. I've made it clear that I'll focus the committee on counterterrorism and hold hearings on a wide range of issues, including radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism." [Newsday, 12/20/10]

  • King Claims To Be Investigating Muslims "On Behalf Of Muslims." During an appearance on Fox News' Hannity, King stated: "I'm not one of these people who talks about the Muslim faith. I'm talking about Muslim leaders who are covering up for fanatical extreme in their, in their community. And I'm in many ways doing this on behalf of Muslims, encouraging them to speak out, to be heard. To not let their leaders sell them out the way too many of them are right now." [Hannity via Political Correction, 12/20/10]

King: "Leaders Of Muslim Organizations" Don't "Cooperate With The Police" Against Terrorism. From comments Rep. King made on Imus in the Morning:

KING: It's not just people who are involved with the terrorists and extremists, it is people who are in mainstream Islam, leaders of mosques, leaders of Muslim organizations who do not come forward and denounce, officially denounce, officially cooperate with the police against those extremists and terrorists. So, it goes beyond the terrorists and the extremists and also includes those in what others call mainstream Muslim leadership. [Fox Business Channel's Imus in the Morning via Think Progress, 10/28/10, emphasis original]

King: DHS Should "Put Out A Report Talking About Look Out For Mosques." From comments Rep. King made on Morning Joe:

KING: [Napolitano] has never put out a report talking about look out for mosques. Look out for Islamic terrorists in our country. Look out for the fact that very few Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police. If they sent out a report saying that, there would be hell to pay. [MSNBC's Morning Joe via Think Progress, 4/16/09, emphasis original]

King: There Are "Too Many Mosques In This Country." From Politico: "New York Rep. Peter King, a prominent House Republican, said there are 'too many mosques in this country' in a recent interview with Politico. 'There are too many people sympathetic to radical Islam,' King said. 'We should be looking at them more carefully and finding out how we can infiltrate them.'" [Politico, 9/19/07]

King: 85 Percent Of Mosques In America Are Controlled By "Extremist Leadership." From Politico: "Earlier, King had said in an interview with radio and television host Sean Hannity that 85 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by 'extremist leadership,' a comment that prompted strong condemnations from many religious organizations and from the Democratic National Committee." [Politico, 9/19/07]

King: "The Enemy Is Islamic Terrorism." From the Washington Independent:

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) spoke yesterday at the Heritage Foundation about the Obama administration's counterterrorism policy.

"The enemy is Islamic terrorism. It's not an amorphous extremism....It's Islamic terrorism which opposes the very fiber of what we stand for," Rep. King said.

Earlier this year, right-leaning media jumped on a decision by President Obama's advisers to leave out terms like "Islamic extremism" and "jihadist" from the National Security Strategy. But as Spencer Ackerman wrote for TWI at the time, language matters: "You hear from Muslims all over the world [that] calling al-Qaeda 'jihadists' pays them an ill-deserved tribute," Ackerman wrote. [Washington Independent, 7/29/10; parentheses removed for clarity]

King Was A Fundraiser And Apologist For The Irish Republican Army

King Was Linked To The IRA, Sinn Fein And Noraid. From the New York Sun:

In 1980, Mr. [Alfonse] D'Amato, then the senator-elect, fulfilled a campaign pledge and went to Belfast on a fact-finding trip, taking Messrs. King and Dillon with him. It was the start of Mr. King's long entanglement with the IRA, and he took to it with the zeal of a convert.

He forged links with leaders of the IRA and Sinn Fein in Ireland, and in America he hooked up with Irish Northern Aid, known as Noraid, a New York based group that the American, British, and Irish governments often accused of funneling guns and money to the IRA. At a time when the IRA's murder of Lord Mountbatten and its fierce bombing campaign in Britain and Ireland persuaded most American politicians to shun IRA-support groups, Mr. King displayed no such inhibitions. He spoke regularly at Noraid protests and became close to the group's publicity director, the Bronx lawyer Martin Galvin, a figure reviled by the British. [New York Sun, 6/22/05, emphasis added]

King Called The IRA "The Legitimate Voice Of Occupied Ireland." From the New York Sun: "Once a vocal and frequent House champion for the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, and its leader, Gerry Adams, the 60-year-old, Queens-born Mr. King has said nothing about either on the House floor in years. The politician once called the IRA 'the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland,' he was banned from the BBC by British censors for his pro-IRA views, and he refused to denounce the IRA when one of its mortar bombs killed nine Northern Irish police officers. But Mr. King is now one of America's most outspoken foes of terrorism." [New York Sun, 6/22/05]

King Pledged Support For "Brave Men And Women" Of The IRA Who Were "Carrying Forth The Struggle Against British Imperialism." From the New York Sun: "Mr. King's support for the IRA was unequivocal. In 1982, for instance, he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County: 'We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.'" [New York Sun, 6/22/05]

King Raised Funds For Noraid, Which Funded The IRA And May Have Supplied Weapons In The Conflict. From The Daily Beast:

In Northern Ireland, the conflict was drily referred to as "The Troubles." But that understatement hides the brutal nature of an ugly, squalid conflict during which more than 3,600 people were killed. Republican terrorists were responsible for more than 2,000 of these deaths. The scale of the carnage was such that, on a per-capita basis, a comparable conflict in the United States would kill 700,000 Americans.

And King was at the heart of it: In the 1980s, he was a prominent fundraiser for Noraid, the Irish-American organization that raised money for the IRA and was suspected of running guns to Ulster, too. Indeed, King's rise to prominence within the Irish-American movement was predicated upon his support for the IRA at a time when New Yorkers were softer on terrorism than they are now. Noraid helped win King his seat in Congress, making him, in some respects, the terrorists' Man in Washington. [The Daily Beast, 1/10/10, emphasis added]

King Called President George W. Bush A Tool Of "Anti-Catholic Bigoted Forces" After He Visited A University That Honored A Northern Ireland Protestant Leader. From the New York Sun: "When Mr. Bush visited Bob Jones University in South Carolina, an institution that is notorious in Ireland for awarding an honorary doctorate to Northern Ireland's tempestuous Protestant leader, Ian Paisley, the presidential candidate became, as Mr. King angrily put it, a tool of 'anti-Catholic bigoted forces.'" [New York Sun, 6/22/05]

King Was So Vocal About Sympathy For IRA He Was Listed As A Security Threat To President Reagan. From the New York Sun: "Mr. King's advocacy of the IRA's cause encouraged that flow and earned him the deep-seated hostility of the British and Irish governments. In America, official animosity was no less intense. The GOP in Nassau tried, unsuccessfully, to muzzle him, and he complained that the FBI was opening mail sent from Ireland, including letters from Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams. In 1984, the Secret Service listed him as a threat when President Reagan made a trip to Nassau County to watch a Special Olympics event." [New York Sun, 6/22/05]

King Was Singled Out "For Thorough Body Searches" Because He Was Deemed "An Obvious Collaborator With The IRA." From the New York Sun: "By the mid-1980s, the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic were openly hostile to Mr. King. On one occasion, a judge threw him out of a Belfast courtroom during the murder trial of IRA men because, in the judge's view, 'he was an obvious collaborator with the IRA.' When he attended other trials, the police singled him out for thorough body searches." [New York Sun, 6/22/05]

King Supports Indefinite Detention For Muslim Terror Suspects, But Argued An Irish Terrorist Be Released On Bail

King Argued That Apprehended IRA Fugitive Be Released On Bail Because Irish Republicans "Honor Their Commitments." From the Brownsville Herald:

Twenty-five years after taking part in the largest prison break in the United Kingdom's history, Pol Brennan is back behind bars - this time at the Port Isabel Detention Center.

After his days with the Irish Republican Army - a group that espoused violence as a means of achieving Ireland's independence from Britain - Brennan spent more than 15 years as a fugitive. Those days, he thought, were over.

But in January 2008, eight years after the British government withdrew an extradition request for Brennan, he was arrested at the Sarita checkpoint, 70 miles north of Brownsville. U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended him after he presented an expired work permit.

Following his apprehension, Brennan was denied bail and spent four months in solitary confinement at the Port Isabel Detention Center. After much pleading, he was moved to the facility's main holding area, where he currently remains.

In the last few weeks, Brennan's case has attracted interest from American and Irish politicians who say, at the very least, the 55-year-old should be released on bail.

"My experience dealing with (Irish) republicans is that they don't jump bail in this country. They honor their commitments," U.S Rep. Peter King, R-NY, the top-ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, told the Belfast Telegraph on June 19. "Based on my experience, and also the republican movement's commitment to the peace process, I think he should get bail." [Brownsville Herald, 6/23/08, emphasis added]

King Denounced 'Putting Terrorists Into The Criminal Justice System.' From an interview with Rep. King on Fox News Channel's America Live:

REP. KING: First of all, this is very, very important. We could probably convict him in the federal court. This isn't a question of conviction. It's the precedent we are going to set. Are we going to be putting terrorist into the criminal justice system, which makes it much harder to get information from them and intelligence from them?

Again, I go back to Lindsey Graham's question of Eric Holder at the hearing back in November. If Osama bin Laden is captured tomorrow on the battlefield, is he going to be read his Miranda rights? Or are we going to try and get every bit of intelligence out of him that we can? And the fact is, this is wartime, these people should be treated as enemy combatants. It's much more effective for us, we have much more control over the evidence. We don't have to give him Miranda warnings up front. There's different hearsay exceptions under the military tribunal than there happens to be in court. Plus, we don't need them in civilian areas. We have Guantanamo. [America Live via Nexis, 2/5/10, emphasis added]

King Applauded The Bush Administration's Use Of Torture. From the Huffington Post:

"There was no harm done," King said Wednesday, referring to the waterboarding of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohmammed, who was subjected to simulated drowning 183 times in March of 2003. "In the big picture, to hold someone's head underwater, the chance of permanent damage is minimal and the rewards are great." [...]

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday called more directly for investigators to pursue "full accountability for the criminal use of torture."

King, however, entirely disagreed with this mission.

"Jerry and I are friends, but he's entirely wrong on this," King told Politico. "There would've been lives lost, and Bush deserves credit for what he did."

And not just credit -- King says the former commander in chief "should get a medal." [Huffington Post, 11/11/10]

King: "Did They Mirandize [The Times Square Bomber]? I know He's An American Citizen, But Still." From Politico:

New York Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, wants to know whether the Justice Department consulted with the intelligence community before it decided to hold his trial in civilian court. "I hope that Holder did discuss this with the intelligence community. If they believe they got enough from him, how much more should they get? Did they Mirandize him? I know he's an American citizen, but still," King told POLITICO.

"I hope that if they did read him his rights, and if they are going for an indictment as opposed to a tribunal, that he did discuss it with the director of national intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, all the component parts of the intelligence community," King said. [Politico, 5/4/10]

King Continued To Express Sympathy For The IRA After He Called On Them To Disband Post-9/11

King Called On IRA To Disband — But Only After Defending Them For Years. From the New York Sun: "After years spent stoutly defending the IRA and its often bloody methods, Mr. King recently called on the group to disband and bring the seemingly endless Irish peace process to a final and successful conclusion. Frustrated with continued IRA criminality, Mr. King is now in an unaccustomed position: His stance on the IRA is tougher than that of either the British or Irish governments, although it is in lockstep with White House advisers." [New York Sun, 6/22/05]

In 2002, King Called Congressional Hearings Into Links Between IRA And A Colombian Terrorist Group "Irresponsible." From The Daily Beast: "Nor was King ever apparently concerned by the links the IRA forged with countries hostile to the United States, such as Libya and Cuba. In 2002 - after September 11, mind you - King condemned as 'irresponsible' congressional hearings investigating links between the IRA and the Colombian terrorist-group FARC. King claimed that the hearings were rigged and subject to a 'pre-ordained agenda' despite ample evidence demonstrating that the IRA was offering bomb-making and explosives training to the FARC." [The Daily Beast, 1/10/10]

King In 2005: "We Shouldn't Rush To Be Too Sanctimonious" About An IRA Murder And Witness Suppression. From The Daily Beast: "As recently as 2005, King told me that 'we shouldn't rush to be too sanctimonious' about the murder of Robert McCartney in a Belfast pub. Although the killing was witnessed by dozens of drinkers, IRA intimidation ensured that none came forward. A re-enactment of the murder shown on Irish television showed the Republicans involved returning to Magennis's bar to mop up blood and remove CCTV evidence while warning customers 'This is IRA business.' But, according to King, all the media attention devoted to the case was a whole lot of fuss about nothing much-even though the case revealed how the IRA continued to run rackets and pervert the course of justice." [The Daily Beast, 1/10/10]

King's Political Career Is Tied To His Support For The IRA

Noraid Support Helped King Get Elected. From the New York Sun:

As Mr. King became more outspoken in his support for the IRA he was also fashioning his political career. In 1977 he was elected to municipal office in Hempstead, and four years later he became Nassau County comptroller. His breakthrough came in 1985, and for that he could thank IRA supporters in New York. Four years before, 10 IRA prisoners had starved themselves to death on a hunger strike in protest of being denied political status by the British. Week after week during the lengthy fast, tens of thousands of Irish-Americans turned out for noisy Noraid protests - and mainstream politicians, from Mayor Koch to Senator D'Amato - lined up to speak from Noraid platforms.

In the years after the hunger strike, Noraid was a major player in New York's Irish-American politics. That was most evident in the yearly election of grand marshal of the St. Patrick's Day parade, when Noraid sympathizers were chosen each year. In 1985, the group threw its weight behind Mr. King. When he won and led the procession in top hat and tails, before an estimated 2 million spectators, the Irish government boycotted the parade. Efforts to persuade Cardinal O'Connor and the city's political establishment to follow suit failed.

"It was a battle for Irish-American hearts and minds," Mr. Galvin, the Noraid leader, said. Noraid won the battle hands down, due in no small measure to Mr. King's soaring popularity in the Irish community.

"Definitely, being grand marshal helped," Mr. King said. "It gave me an opportunity, a forum for about a month, and the fact that people in the Irish-American community now knew the name King was definitely a big plus." The proof of that came that November, when he was re-elected as Nassau comptroller against a candidate who made the contest a referendum on Mr. King's pro-IRA views. Noraid lobbied heavily for Mr. King, holding fund-raising events and publicizing his campaign in its paper, the Irish People. [New York Sun, 6/22/05, emphasis added]

King Invited Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams To His Swearing-In To Congress. From the New York Sun: "The following year, Mr. King signaled his wider political ambitions and ran as GOP candidate against Robert Abrams for state attorney general. Although he lost badly, within six years Mr. King was in Congress, elected in New York's 3rd District, one of the most affluent House districts. No sooner were the votes counted than Mr. King was on a plane to Belfast, inviting Gerry Adams to his swearing-in. Mr. King arrived in Washington to a hostile reception." [New York Sun, 6/22/05]