Peter King sees the attacks in Massachusetts this week as a wake-up call to local law-enforcement authorities to increase their surveillance and awareness of potential terrorists.
“Police have to be in the community, they have to build up as many sources as they can, and they have to realize that the threat is coming from the Muslim community and increase surveillance there,” the New York Republican congressman tells National Review.
“We can’t be bound by political correctness,” adds King, who chairs the House subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. “I think we need more police and more surveillance in the communities where the threat is coming from, whether it’s the Irish community with the Westies [an Irish-American gang in New York City], or the Italian community with the mafia, or the Muslim community with the Islamic terrorists.”
The New York Police Department has 1,000 officers working on anti-terrorism, according to King, while most police departments have just a couple of officers focused on the effort.
The attacks show that “the war from terrorism is far from over,” King asserts, pointing out that many had feared “the nightmare” that someone without a criminal record would be successful in attacking a city. “The new normal,” King says, could be terrorists attacking from within, without any increase in chatter monitored by intelligence prior to the attacks. “The new threat is definitely from within, and we can’t let our guard down.”
“I’ve been talking about radicalization of the Muslim community,” he remarks, “and I think this is an example of it.”
King says he’d like to see local businesses alert police when anyone makes a suspicious purchase, such as buying significant quantities of items that could be used to make explosives. In New York City, if “anything unusual, any potential component part of an explosive device is purchased under any suspicious circumstances,” the businesses alert the police.
The two brothers believed to be involved in the atacks, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, have potential ties to Chechnya. King says that means there may be a “new front” in the War on Terror.
“There’s never been any history of any threats emanating in this country from the Chechen community,” King says. “So in a way this opens up a new front in the war.”
King dismissed the idea that the Massachusetts attacks should be a significant factor in considering the immigration-reform legislation.
Speaking about the attacks in Massachusetts, he talked soberly about how “deadly and brutal” the killers were. “This was solely to cause human carnage and suffering. There’s no other purpose to the attack. It’s not even as if they were blowing up a government landmark and civilians got killed collaterally or as an afterthought.”