Heated rhetoric between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York officials over the NYPD's surveillance activities on Muslim subjects in New Jersey is reviving questions about Christie's views toward radical Islam.
Christie expressed anger about the surveillance following disclosures in a series of Associated Press reports. "I don't know if this NYPD action was born out of arrogance, or out of paranoia, or out of both," he said when asked about it on his monthly radio show, "but we're taking a real good, strong hard look at it from a policy perspective at the governor's office level."
That prompted U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., to tell a radio interviewer "I wish Chris Christie was more concerned about keeping people alive than he is about trying to score cheap political points."
Jonathan Tobin analyzes the situation, finding it is more than "two politicians who love to run their mouths and are intolerant of criticism." Rather, he sees Christie cynically choosing sides to cultivate Muslim political support. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported last year, Christie's appointment of Sohail Mohammed to be a state judge was a troubling sign. Mohammed had represented Mohammed Qatanani, an imam suspected of Hamas ties, in a deportation case.
"Christie not only sought to prevent the deportation but spoke at the imam's mosque which had previously been the site of a $2 million fundraiser for Hamas by the now banned Holy Land Foundation," Tobin writes.
Christie, then a U.S. Attorney, took sides against the Department of Homeland Security by allowing a top lieutenant to testify as a character witness for the imam. Christie later embraced Qatanani at a Ramadan breakfast.
"It is difficult to view his involvement in the Qatanani case as anything but a cynical pander for votes on the part of a man who was about to run for governor," Tobin writes.
Before Christie nominated him to the bench, Mohammed prayed for the acquittal of former Holy Land Foundation officials later convicted on more than 100 counts related to the group's illegally routing more than $12 million to Hamas-controlled charities, and he defended Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian during a cable television appearance.
In an editorial, the New York Daily News questions Christie's insistence he didn't know the NYPD engaged in intelligence gathering in New Jersey. The NYPD's reputation, the governor said, was to keep people in the dark, so "if the NYPD has a choice between telling you and not telling you, more times than not, they don't."
But predecessors and senior law enforcement officials were told, meaning if Christie is being candid, the newspaper wrote, then he "was generally clueless about this important aspect of terror-fighting on his turf. That's a problem."