The King Hearings, Round 2: Jailhouse Muslim Radicalization
Even without the intense media circus that surrounded the first hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in America, the second round of “King Hearings” had just as much drama and hyperbole, and as many compelling testimonials. At its climax, accusations that the hearing was motivated by racism and bigotry, hurled by a prominent Democrat, provoked the Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R.-N.Y.) to fire back with a brilliant and eviscerating reply.
Titled, “The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons,” the hearing had an even better list of expert witnesses than the first.
Among the expert witnesses was Kevin Smith, who has been a local and federal prosecutor since the mid-1990s and worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. He was instrumental in breaking up and prosecuting the radical group Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS).
Smith explained how prisoners in a Folsom, Calif., prison radicalized, organized and carried out crimes in the name of Islam. The leader of JIS, Kevin James, would preach to fellow inmates, telling them to target infidels—specifically Jews or other supporters of Israel.
Smith continued to describe how Kevin James and members of JIS were able to disseminate material throughout the prison system, and in his written testimonial described the blueprint that the group had laid out for its future. The blueprint had explicit instructions on how to plot and carry out terrorist activity.
Through recruiting efforts, James was able to collaborate with two other prisoners. Once all three were released from prison, they committed a series of crimes across the state and organized terrorist activities against Jews living in America and in Israel. Fortunately, the group was taken down by local and federal law enforcement before it could do serious harm.
Smith also explained why Muslim radicals are more dangerous than common criminals or gang members. It is because while a common criminal commits crimes for selfish reasons, Muslim radicals are dedicated to killing and terrifying Americans in large numbers. He said, “The most dangerous criminal is the one you don’t know.” Right now that happens to be the Muslim radicals operating throughout the prison system.
Another witness, Michael Downing, who is a counterterrorism expert in the Los Angeles Police Department, also worked on the JIS case, and he described many of the other operations that have taken place across the country. He spoke about other Muslim terrorists, such as Jose Padilla, Richard Reid and Michael Finton. All were radicalized in American or British prison systems.
These testimonials debunked the claim made in the opening statement by Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D.-Miss.), that “prisoners do not have Internet access and all nonlegal mail is opened, read and sometimes censored. Judging from these accounts, it would seem that opportunities for radicalization are few.” He continued to say, “I think it is safe to conclude that the risk of terrorism originating from Muslim converts is small.”
Also in his opening statement, Rep. Thompson made the main Democratic argument that was pushed throughout the hearing. He said, “Limiting this committee’s oversight of radicalization to one religion ignores threats posed by violent extremists of all stripes.” He, along with other Democrats, equated Islamic terrorists with gang members and said that gangs should have been the focus of the hearing instead of Muslims.
Nearly every Democrat avoided the issue of Islamic radicalization and tried to change the focus of the hearing entirely. They tried to equate Islamic radicalism with other crimes, and constantly talked about the threat of gangs, anti-abortion Christians and neo-Nazis.
In a replay of the first King hearing, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D.-Tex.) continued on a bizarre tirade about how both of these hearings were a brutal assault on the Constitution. She blamed this assault on, “Christian militants that undermine the constitutional right of abortion.” She said that “this topic lends itself to a myriad of analysis,” and concluded that “information is welcome, but condemnation is not,” underscoring her belief that the hearings were an unfair attack on Muslims.
Another Democrat, Rep. Hansen Clarke (Mich.), made a dramatic, hyperbolic and entirely off-topic speech about the unfairness of so many people in America being put into prisons. He then called upon the Tea Party to battle current, costly prison policy.
Throughout the Democratic attacks on the hearing itself, Republican members certainly didn’t stay quiet.
Before asking the witnesses any questions, Rep. Dan Lungren (R.-Calif.) stated, “The amount of political correctness in this room is astounding.” He said that the former Democratic representative from California, Jane Harman, had a similar hearing years ago and Democrats said nothing at the time.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R.-S.C.) made a very poignant comment when he described why the hearings were taking place. He told the members to “look at the pictures around the room.” In the committee hearing room—on every wall—are pictures taken on 9/11 that show both the horror and heroism that occurred on that day as a direct result of a massive attack by radical Muslims.
The most spectacular fireworks and climax of the event, which sparked a direct confrontation between Democrats and Republicans, came as a result of an attack leveled by Rep. Laura Richardson (D.-Calif.) indirectly against King.
Richardson fired the first salvo. “What I disagree with, with all due respect to the chairman, is this committee’s focus on one particular group. I actually believe that focus on one particular group on the basis of race or religion can be deemed as racist and is discriminatory.”
King wasted no time in firing back with a response to Richardson and all the other Democratic attacks from the entire hearing.
King said, “The fact is that this committee was set up to combat terrorism, it was set up after September 11. There are already procedures in place that follow gangs in prison. Unfortunately because [of] too many instances of political correctness, we do not have protocols put in place to follow those who had trained in jihad in the prison systems. And that’s why this is unique.”
He then attacked the Democratic Party’s opposition to the hearing as being mere politicking by saying, “Your party had control of this committee for four years and had not one hearing on prisons, on skinheads, on Nazis, on Aryan Nation, on white supremacists, at all. Suddenly this issue emerges when we start talking about Muslim radicalization. … If we find out that neo-Nazi’s are coordinating with a foreign power to attack this country, then we will investigate it.”
Before King finished demolishing Richardson’s arguments, she tried to interject, but he cut her off. Unable to respond, Richardson quickly dashed out of the room.