Tuesday, March 08, 2011

USA/COMMENT: Peter King's terror fantasy

A Republican Representative from Long Island in New York has just commenced Congressional Hearings in the United States on the dangers posed by Muslims. Apparently they haven't been doing enough to fight terrorism and extremism among their ranks. As a result, the whole of the United States is threatened.

No, Peter King isn't holding Congressional Hearings on extremism or terrorism. He's holding hearings on Muslim terrorism. Because as we all know, not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims. Just ask King, who was quoted in the NY Daily News on 29 November 2010 as follows:

Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to designate WikiLeaks a "foreign terrorist organization," saying it "posed a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States," and to prosecute founder Julian Assange for espionage.

Hey, let's be honest with ourselves. King can spot an Islamic terrorist a mile away. I mean, the dude pictured below sure looks like a Muslim to me.

Making matters more interesting, King chairs the Homeland Security Committee.

And you thought having Cory Bernardi as Tony Abbott's Parliamentary Secretary was nuts.

There's just one problem. Peter King himself is (or at least was) a supporter of terrorism.

Back in June 22 2005, the New York Sun reported:

Since the late 1970s, a Long Island congressman, Peter King, has been aligned with one of the most violent terrorist groups in recent European history, defying critics in his own Republican Party and elsewhere, and yet managing to prosper ...

The Nassau County politician ... used to travel to Belfast as often as twice a year ...

Once a vocal and frequent House champion for the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, and its leader, Gerry Adams ... The politician once called the IRA "the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland," he was banned from the BBC by British censors for his pro-IRA views, and he refused to denounce the IRA when one of its mortar bombs killed nine Northern Irish police officers.

It makes interesting reading. Here's some more.

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.

During his visits to Ireland, Mr. King would often stay with well-known leaders of the IRA, and he socialized in IRA drinking haunts. At one of such clubs, the Felons, membership was limited to IRA veterans who had served time in jail. Mr. King would almost certainly have been red-flagged by British intelligence as a result, but the experience gave him plenty of material for the three novels he subsequently wrote featuring the IRA.

If Peter King helped give the IRA a respectable face in America, in Ireland and Britain the IRA's reputation as a ruthless and skilled terrorist group was solidifying. The product of street disorders in 1969 in the wake of a civil rights campaign on behalf of Northern Ireland's minority Catholic population, the IRA's violent effort to end British rule against the wishes of the majority Protestant population lasted 25 years. Despite killings by state forces and Protestant terrorist groups who favored retaining Northern Ireland's British links, the IRA emerged as the single most violent group. More than 3,600 civilians, soldiers, and policemen died in the conflict between 1969 and 1994 - the per-capita equivalent death toll in America would be nearly 700,000 - and the IRA was responsible for around half of those killings.

Ireland was no stranger to episodic political violence, but the strife in Northern Ireland was the most intense and prolonged of all. At one stage, Britain had 30,000 troops stationed there to quell the violence. Meanwhile, the IRA took its campaign to Britain - where London's financial district was twice devastated by bombs - and to mainland Europe, where British NATO bases were frequently targeted. The IRA nearly killed Prime Minister Thatcher and her cabinet with a bomb in 1984, and it assassinated prominent British politicians and members of the royal family. The IRA's primary contribution to international terrorist know-how, the car and truck bombs now commonplace in Iraq, were devised and first deployed by the IRA in Belfast in 1972. The organization also developed homemade explosives, like the fertilizer-based device that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma in 1995.

Much of the conventional weaponry and a great deal of the money necessary for IRA violence came from Irish-American sympathizers. Mr. King's advocacy of the IRA's cause encouraged that flow and earned him the deep-seated hostility of the British and Irish governments. In America, official animosity was no less intense. The GOP in Nassau tried, unsuccessfully, to muzzle him, and he complained that the FBI was opening mail sent from Ireland, including letters from Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams. In 1984, the Secret Service listed him as a threat when President Reagan made a trip to Nassau County to watch a Special Olympics event.

Mr. King and the IRA made the oddest of political couples. While Mr. King was an opponent of legalized abortion, a fiscal conservative, and a prominent supporter of English First - which campaigned against federal funds for bilingual education - the IRA and Sinn Fein are close to supporting abortion rights, have campaigned to give the Irish language official parity with English, and were in a pseudo-Marxist phase when Mr. King made his alliance with them. None of that bothered the IRA's American supporters.

"People like Adams were banned from America, there was censorship in Ireland, and there was no one around who would support armed struggle," a former head of the Manhattan unit of Noraid, John McDonagh, said. "But here you had this guy whose father was an NYPD cop - a politician, a lawyer, and from Queens. We may not have liked his politics, but it was so good to have someone like that, a very credible person who spoke up for us."

As Mr. King became more outspoken in his support for the IRA he was also fashioning his political career. In 1977 he was elected to municipal office in Hempstead, and four years later he became Nassau County comptroller. His breakthrough came in 1985,and for that he could thank IRA supporters in New York.Four years before, 10 IRA prisoners had starved themselves to death on a hunger strike in protest of being denied political status by the British. Week after week during the lengthy fast, tens of thousands of Irish-Americans turned out for noisy Noraid protests - and mainstream politicians, from Mayor Koch to Senator D'Amato - lined up to speak from Noraid platforms.

King happily supported radical extremism and terrorism when it suited his own understanding of his ethno-religious identity. It was okay for him to spend years promoting and raising funds for violent terror cells. The Irish Catholic jihad was his jihad.

Now things have changed. Funny, that. Still, it isn't just terrorists of the wrong religion that Peter King has a problem with.

No comments: