Rep. Peter King (R-NY) testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing titled Terrorists and Guns: The Nature of the Threat and Proposed Reforms, on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 5, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

The newly elected Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has announced he will hold hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in America next year, pledging to “break down the wall of political correctness” that prevents public debate on homegrown terrorism.

In an opinion piece in New York’s Newsday, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., writes that he will focus the committee on counterterrorism to find reasons why as many as 15 percent of young Muslim Americans say suicide bombing is justified and why many Islamic leaders trivialize the threat or even resist police investigation into jihadi violence.

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King argues that while the “jihadist threat [from overseas] has subsided” in the face of counterterrorism measures, “Al-Qaida has adjusted to this new reality and is recruiting Muslims living legally in the United States – homegrown terrorists who have managed to stay under the anti-terror radar screen. This is why the hearings I will hold next year are so critical.”

King cites several examples to back up his assertions, including the case of Najibullah Zazi, a legal permanent resident of the U.S. who pled guilty earlier this year to planning a suicide bombing on New York City subway, Nidal Hasan, the Army major accused in the murder of 13 people at Fort Hood last year, and Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen who confessed to the foiled car bombing in Times Square earlier this year.

“We need to find the reasons for this alienation,” King writes.

But King also had words for Muslim leaders who have criticized his calls for investigation: “There’s a disconnect between outstanding Muslims who contribute so much to the future of our country and those leaders who – for whatever reason – acquiesce in terror or ignore the threat. It is this disconnect that threatens the security of us all.”

As WND has reported, several analysts have warned the U.S. is vulnerable to terror attacks from within, but discussion of those threats in relation to radical Islam has been stunted in a nation that values religious freedom and extols tolerance.

King acknowledged in his column that his willingness to challenge Islamic fundamentalism in the U.S. – once telling radio host Sean Hannity that “this is an enemy living amongst us,” and telling another outlet that “too many mosques in this country do not cooperate with law enforcement” – has sparked intense criticism.

“To some in the strata of political correctness, I’m a pretty bad guy,” King acknowledges. “A spokesman for the Committee on American Islamic Relations denounced me last year for making ‘bigoted remarks … about Muslims and mosques [that] have no place in national security discussions.'”

Even Newsday wrote of the soon-to-be committee chair, “We wish King was less given to bellicose broadsides about Muslims. Alienating loyal Muslim Americans won’t make us safer.”

But King insists he has a record of both praising Muslim contributions to the U.S. and being willing to call out those that would undermine the country.

“In the days following 9/11, I made several television and radio appearances supporting American Muslims, saying that they had nothing to do with the attacks and were as loyal and patriotic as any Americans,” King writes.

But then he notes, “Even today I cannot begin to describe the disappointment, anger and outrage I felt when … prominent Long Island Muslim leaders were insisting there was no evidence that al-Qaida was responsible for the attacks – even saying it could have been the CIA, the FBI or the Zionists! Even more troubling is that to this day, no Muslim leader has denounced those vile remarks.”

King says he’s concerned that “moral myopia” of Muslim leaders and “their apologists in the media” have left the U.S. blinded to the true nature and extent of the jihadi threat in America.

“As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee,” King concludes, “I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization. These hearings will be a step in that direction. It’s what democracy is all about.”

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