Peter King hypes Hezbollah threat to US

 

Representative Peter King (R-NY) knows of a new threat to US homeland security: the presence of “hundreds” of Iranian-backed Hezbollah operatives inside the US who could be used to commit terrorism.

King held a House Committee on Homeland Security hearing yesterday on “Iran, Hezbollah, and the Threat to the Homeland.”

“As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons, and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran’s secret operatives, and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America,” said King.

It sounds alarming, but King’s hearing was more about stoking fear than about an actual threat. King has become the nation’s leading fear mongerer, holding hearings that solely focus on the threat of Islamist terrorism while ignoring the threat from, say, right-wing extremists.

King’s star witness was Mitchell Sibler, the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) intelligence analysis director. Sibler made headlines when he disclosed that “authorities have interviewed at least 13 people since 2005 with ties to Iran’s government who were seen taking pictures of New York City landmarks,” as an Associated Press report noted.

It should be remembered that Sibler has an interest in inflating the threat of terror to New York, as his police department has been harshly criticized for a massive spy operation targeting the Muslim community. In 2006, an internal police memo directed the NYPD to ramp up its blanket surveillance of Shi’a mosques in the Northeast to collect intelligence on potential Iranian threats. The memo, according to an Associated Press investigation, shows that the NYPD spied on people “based solely on their religion.”

The AP report on yesterday’s King hearing closes with this important fact: “Government officials have said there are no known or specific threats indicating Iranian plans to attack inside the U.S.”

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS) voiced concerns over the hearing, as the Huffington Post reported:

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said he was concerned that the testimony he was about to hear was based on outdated information and not current intelligence. He noted that “no current federal officials” were asked to testify on Wednesday.

“A word of caution is in order,” Thompson said. “When we examine our relationship with another country, we cannot look at any particular moment in time and pretend that it tells the whole story. We cannot view the politics, history and culture of any other country clearly by seeing a snapshot version.”

Referencing Clapper’s earlier testimony, Thompson said the director of national intelligence should be called in for a classified hearing, but added, “We should not engage in a public discussion that creates fear and delivers misinformation.”

What’s more, the evidence that King presented to prove the dangerous Hezbollah presence in the US is anything but rock solid. Award-winning blogger Marcy Wheeler casts doubt on aspects of a report that King submitted as part of the hearing:

More interesting still is the list of “US cases involving Hezbollah,” a list of 19 federal cases. One of the cases is the Scary Car Broker plot, in which the US-based business owners are not alleged to have known of any tie to Hezbollah (if, in fact, one exists).

Even worse, it includes US v. Chahine, the case against Nada Prouty’s brother-in-law Talal Chahine.

The government never accused Chahine of any ties to Hezbollah–not in any legal forum where they’d have to prove their case. Rather, they accused him (and got a guilty plea from Prouty’s sister) of tax evasion. While the tax evasion case was valid, the entire case derived from Prouty’s brother Fadi’s efforts to dig up a crime that would justify his service as an informant, which he was doing to beat his own weapons charges. That is, as so often happens, this was an instance of FBI trading one criminal charge for the hope of netting a terrorist. Along the way, Fadi convinced Chahine not to go clean on his tax evasion, presumably at the direction of the FBI. Ultimately, the only tie between Chahine and Hezbollah consisted of a radical cleric’s presence at a charity event benefiting orphans to which Chahine had donated And, as Prouty lays out, a 4-year investigation into Chahine never showed any ties to terrorism.

The claims of Hezbollah infiltration in the US sound similar to the overhyped claims that Hezbollah has a presence in Latin America. As PolitiFact stated after a GOP presidential debate that featured talk of Hezbollah in Latin America, support for that claim is “pretty flimsy.” King’s hearings don’t appear to rest on any more support.

This post originally appeared on AlterNet’s blog.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
Posted in Iran, Middle East, US Politics, War on Terror | Tagged , , ,

{ 11 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Peter King (who helped to fund IRA terrorism) is nothing but an old-fashioned hypocritical demagogue! No one in his or her right mind would dare buy a used car from him.

  2. dahoit says:

    Ol Pete,whose district was just redrawn to include part of the North Shore of LI,is just mining more of the Zio voters,and I,in talking to an elderly Jewish fellow,have seen the fruit,as how would Jewish voters support some Irish(American?) bigot with his history of corruption and total lack of any policy achievements? other than his Irish terror support, if it wasn’t his Israeli donation campaign,and his total fealty to non American interests.
    What else is new in this world of hypocrisy?

  3. Taxi says:

    Why don’t we just declare everyone in the world, apart from Apartheid israel, a buncha anti-semitic terrorists and go the hell to war with everybody all at once and be done with it already!

  4. Les says:

    Who’s the biggest racist, King or those who vote for him?

  5. American says:

    King is opportunistic nut case. He never met a threat or conspiracy he didn’t like and if he can’t find one to adopt he makes one up.

  6. riyadh says:

    So it’s okay for the US to fly drones over Iran but it’s not okay for Iranians to take pictures of New York landmarks?

  7. Charon says:

    I’ve been hearing this “Hezbollah in the US” thing for years.

    This is absolutely nonsense. Why would a Lebanese resistance group opposed to the occupation in Israel be in the Americas? I realize my country considers them terrorists, but the majority of the world considers them a legitimate resistance group.

    I had a conversation with a family member who is a border patrol agent. He has never heard anything about Hezbollah in the Americas. There will be the occasional report that Hezbollah is aiding the drug cartels in Mexico and are plotting terrorist attacks against Americans. He knew who they are, but he had never heard about them being involved in border instability, or even present in the Americas. And I think he would probably have known.

    The only reason they can get away with this claim is due to the huge Lebanese diaspora in the Americas, especially in South Americas due to civil and regional wars (and in recent history Israel’s occupation and wars). Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, and Shakira are Lebanese for example. And often people consider that a South American look. Like over 90% are Christians.

    Every now and then you’ll hear somebody of Lebanese ethnicity defending something like a Hezbollah flag on their house or the logo on their shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re terrorists. According to history, Hezbollah blew up the Israeli embassy in Israel. The facts don’t point to that. Somebody put two and two together and noticed that one of Israel’s enemies has a significant population in the Americas. A scapegoat was born. I don’t buy any of this nonsense.

  8. this video is freaky! just getting around to reading this now, completely off my radar. weird. there’s no end to this stuff. circular stuff they keep recycling. like this ‘assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador’, they will stop at nothing.