I don’t have a problem with a House of Commons select committee holding a hearing Tuesday on “The Roots of Violent Radicalisation.” But who came up with the idea of inviting Congressman Peter King to testify?
The Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, said:
“I am delighted that Congressman Peter King has accepted my invitation to visit the UK Parliament to launch our inquiry into the roots of violent radicalisation. The Committee on Homeland Security has investigated the issue of radicalisation in the American Muslim community very recently, including radicalisation in prisons, one of our particular interests, and the Congressman’s insights will therefore be invaluable. I hope his visit will be the start of a closer relationship between our two committees: the US and UK face many similar challenges in the spheres of crime, terrorism and immigration and I am sure we have much to learn from each other.”
Yeah, right– or should I say right honourable?
King, a Republican congressman from New York, held a similar hearing in Washington last March. We posted back then about his anti-Muslim views and about his staunch support for the Irish Republican Army even during one of its most violent phases.
King, then a local politician on Long Island, was one of the most zealous American defenders of the militant IRA and its campaign to drive the British out of Northern Ireland. He argued that IRA violence was an inevitable response to British repression and that the organization had to be understood in the context of a centuries-long struggle for independence.
“The British government is a murder machine,” King said. He described the IRA, which mastered the car bomb as an instrument of urban terror, as a “legitimate force.” And he compared Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA’s political wing, to George Washington.
King sees no parallel between the IRA and violent Islamist extremism, which he describes as a foreign enemy or a foreign-directed enemy. His preferred comparison for the IRA is with the African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela; the IRA, no less than the ANC’s military wing, was fighting for community rights and freedom, he says.
“I [wanted] a peace agreement, a working agreement, where the nationalist community would feel their rights would be respected,” King said in an interview at his Capitol Hill office. “I felt that the IRA, in the context of Irish history, and Sinn Fein were a legitimate force that had to be recognized and you wouldn’t have peace without them.
In 1982 he told a pro-IRA rally:
“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.”
Although King later supported the Northern Ireland peace process, he has never apologized for his backing of the brutal and murderous IRA.
So perhaps King can speak to the Parliamentary committee about the “The Roots of Violent Radicalisation” based on his experience as a supporter of violent radicals.
(Hat tip: Think Progress.)