WASHINGTON — The chairman of a key US Congress committee on Tuesday rebuffed an appeal to expand planned hearings into radicalization of US Muslims to include all groups seen as potential domestic terrorism threats.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, who has drawn fire over his plans, said the panel’s investigation would remain “focused on the radicalization and recruitment of people within the American Muslim community by foreign Islamic terrorist groups, primarily al-Qaeda.”
The Republican lawmaker, in a statement emailed by his spokesman, also said the hearings would look into “the extent to which American Muslim leaders cooperate with law enforcement.”
His comments came after the committee’s top Democrat, Representative Bennie Thompson, urged King in a letter to “broaden the scope” of the hearings, which have been criticized as stoking anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States.
“Islamic extremists aren’t the only ones willing and able to utilize sophisticated devices intended to kill many Americans,” Thompson wrote.
The Democrat cited a US Department of Homeland Security survey of state law enforcement agencies that found that Islamic radicals were seen as a threat in 31 states, while neo-Nazis were labeled a serious threat in 46 states.
“I hope you share my belief that in the final analysis, the ideology of the bomb maker matters less than the lethal effects of his creation,” said Thompson.