Police and federal agents say House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) is correct in saying they don't get many tips from Muslims. In interviews with the New York Daily News, counterterrorism and intelligence officials with the FBI and NYPD explained some of the similarities - and differences - between radical Islamists and criminal organizations like the Mafia, drug cartels and the MS-13.
"Criminals are criminals. It gets dicier because Muslim extremists wrap their work in religion, but the smokescreens, the silence and intimidation are similar," an FBI source said. What makes Islamist terror different "is the risk – the extent of the damage, the number of people who can get hurt."
Islamist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) deride King for investigating radical Islam in the United States, calling Thursday's hearing a "political stunt" by a lawmaker who is biased against Muslims.
King counters by pointing to the security threat posed by jihadists operating on American soil. He points to the case of Bryant Neal Vinas, a Queens native who pled guilty to providing al-Qaida with information on the Long island Railroad and participating in jihadist attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Vinas had spoken at Long Island mosques about his jihadist aspirations, King said, but no one reported this to law enforcement.
Terrorism analyst Patrick Poole cites other reasons for strident attacks on King like one by James Zogby suggesting that "Islamophobia" is a greater threat than al Qaida and another by Elaine Brower of the Coalition to Stop Islamophobia, who implied at a New York rally against the hearing that Muslims could die as a result of the congressional investigation.
One is that the hearings challenge the Muslim Brotherhood's political monopoly. Since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, groups like CAIR the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) "have enjoyed a monopoly on political access to Congress and the White House," Poole writes.
That domination has been undermined by revelations from the Holy Land Foundation trial "that CAIR is a front for the terrorist group Hamas. As a result of that evidence, the FBI severed ties with CAIR, but continues to work with" groups like ISNA, Poole writes. If members of Congress begin to carefully examine the role Islamist groups play in denying the threat posed by radical Islam, it could threaten their longstanding political domination in Washington.
The Islamist groups leading the opposition to King and the hearings "are not part of the solution [to] Islamic radicalization, but part of the problem," Poole contends. "Their opposition is really driven by self-preservation in the face of leading members of Congress and an American public that are no longer willing to buy their excuses and justifications for Islamic extremism."
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