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GOP Rep. King defends hearings on Muslim radicalization, terrorism ties

GOP Rep. Peter King on Wednesday defended hearings on the so-called radicalization of American Muslims and how that potentially leads to terrorism – amid continued arguments about the need and appropriateness of such hearings.

The meeting was the fifth such for the House Committee on Homeland Security -- led by the New York congressman and created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“The overwhelming majority of American Muslims are outstanding Americans,” King said, however, the threat of radicalism is “a clear and present danger to national security.”

King faced some of the strongest objections from Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

Thompson said he couldn’t recall a congressional meeting called to reflect on previous meetings and argued committee members must make clear the Muslim community “is part of the solution, not the problem.”

He was joined in opposition by Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice.

She argued that Muslims who become so-called radical Muslims do not automatically become terrorists and that Muslims account for only 1 percent of the U.S. population.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, a doctor and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, argued that 90 percent of terrorist crimes are carried out by that 1 percent.

On the issue of whether future meeting should include testimony from experts with security clearance, King said, “The purpose (of the meetings) are to have from the community … to connect with real people.”