Peter “Material Support for Terrorism” King
The NYT has an editorial rightly condemning ascending Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter King’s upcoming hearing to attack Muslims.
It is disturbing to listen to Representative Peter King, the incoming chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He has announced plans to hold a hearing next month into what he calls the “radicalization of the American Muslim community.” Mr. King, a New York Republican, is no stranger to bluster, but his sweeping slur on Muslim citizens is unacceptable.
But the interesting bit of the editorial is the last paragraph.
He had better recall his role as a gifted intermediary in helping to settle Ireland’s sectarian troubles. He would have bristled at any simplistic talk about the “radicalization” of the Irish Catholic or Protestant communities. Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security is a very serious job. Mr. King needs to get serious.
While the NYT points to what I believe to be the appropriate response to King’s fear-mongering, it misses the mark by about a decade or so. They point to King’s involvement in brokering peace in Northern Ireland. But of course the relevant bit is how King, for years, openly supported Irish terrorists.
He forged links with leaders of the IRA and Sinn Fein in Ireland, and in America he hooked up with Irish Northern Aid, known as Noraid, a New York based group that the American, British, and Irish governments often accused of funneling guns and money to the IRA. At a time when the IRA’s murder of Lord Mountbatten and its fierce bombing campaign in Britain and Ireland persuaded most American politicians to shun IRA-support groups, Mr. King displayed no such inhibitions. He spoke regularly at Noraid protests and became close to the group’s publicity director, the Bronx lawyer Martin Galvin, a figure reviled by the British.
Mr. King’s support for the IRA was unequivocal. In 1982, for instance, he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County: “We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.”
By the mid-1980s, the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic were openly hostile to Mr. King. On one occasion, a judge threw him out of a Belfast courtroom during the murder trial of IRA men because, in the judge’s view, “he was an obvious collaborator with the IRA.” When he attended other trials, the police singled him out for thorough body searches.
Even the CIA acknowledges (though it bizarrely considers this secret) that Noraid existed to channel material support to terrorists:
In the twentieth century, Irish-Americans provided most of the financial support sent to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The US-based Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID), founded in the late 1960s, provided the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) with money that was frequently used for arms purchases. Only after repeated high-level British requests and then London’s support for our bombing of Libya in the 1980s did the US Government crack down on Irish-American support for the IRA. (S//NF)
Peter King would still be in prison if the US had treated his material support for terrorism as it now does, with sentences that can amount to a life sentence. Instead, the raging hypocrite is using the Congressional seat he owes, in part, to his earlier embrace of terrorism to sow bigotry and hatred–and to make the cooperation of the Islamic community, which plays a key role in identifying real extremists, more difficult.
The correct response to King’s actions is undoubtedly to point to this rank hypocrisy. Perhaps the NYT is suggesting it will do just that if King doesn’t back off his fear-mongering. But I believe it is already far too late for polite society to continue to soft-pedal this issue. It is inappropriate for a former terrorist sympathizer to head the Homeland Security Committee. And particularly when King uses that position to pull stunts like this, polite society needs to call out his hypocrisy in clear terms.