Rep. Peter King: 'Up to 40 Somali Americans' Have Become 'ISIS Terrorists'

Susan Jones | November 29, 2016 | 8:43am EST
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Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. (AP File Photo)

( - Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, said Monday's attack at the Ohio State University "has all the indicators of terrorism," including a Somali refugee as the suspect and the use of a knife and a vehicle to harm people, as ISIS has encouraged its followers to do.

"There's been a real problem with the (American) Somali community as far as having a large number of Al-Shabaab supporters," King told Fox News's Megyn Kelly Monday night.

As reported on Tuesday, nearly 100,000 Somali refugees have been admitted into the United States since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including 9,020 during fiscal year 2016 and 1,352 last month alone.

"Minneapolis-St. Paul and Columbus, Ohio are the two areas with the highest concentration of Somali refugees," King told Kelly. "We've had up to 40 Somali Americans have gone over to Somalia to fight as ISIS terrorists. So this is a real threat, it's a real danger. And again, it's a community where the overwhelming majority are good people, but there's a hard core within it.

"When I had my hearings on Islamist terorism five-and-a-half years ago, the first witness we had focused on the threat we have from Somali Americans."

In March 2011, King chaired a hearing on the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community.

One of the witnesses, Abdirizak Bihi of Minneapolis, talked about his nephew Burhan Hassan, who came to the U.S. as a baby but years later returned to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. He was murdered in Somalia in 2009, at age 17.

In his 2011 testimony, Bihi said his nephew and up to 40 other young Somali Americans from Minnesota had been "lured, brainwashed, radicalized by members of our community and lured back home into a burning inferno in the civil war."

Bihi said his nephew adapted well to life in the United States, but he, along with other young Muslims, was steered in the wrong direction by the mosque he attended.

Bihi urged Congress to investigate "what is happening in my community." He said he was "very concerned" that other young Somali males could become radicalized.

"I want to tell you, 85 percent of our vulnerable youth do not have viable employment," he said. "They're not already engaged in a constructive programs."

Bihi also said the radicalization of young Muslims does not happen overnight: "I do not believe that there is a kid that gets up in the middle of the night and just who walks blindly into a computer, logs onto a jihadi or al Qaida website or Al-Shabaab, and decides the next day to fly in and explode themselves. That's very weak excuse.

"The radicalization process, or the brainwashing process, takes years. There must be somebody on the ground to exploit this kid, what his anger is, what are his weaknesses, like if there's no father, if there's no mentor, if they are smart, if they are weak.

"So the process takes forever. Internet is one of the last steps, to do online courses, to educate yourself into academic level of -- of being gone."

Bihi said "professional people" come to American cities to do their recruiting, and they know who they're looking for:

"Number one, if you look at the -- the similarities of those who are missing from Minneapolis or from Denmark or from Copenhagen or from Sweden...they all share one thing. They all are mostly from single-mom households. Young men that usually do not have mentorship at home are almost 85 percent." (Bihi's nephew was raised by a single mother.)

"Number two, they are looking for very, extremely smart young people who never had any problem.

"Third, they are looking for kids who are from America and those Western countries who are from those countries that will not have a problem when they are training. They can go back and slip into those countries, and (inaudible) on the idea, so they can just order them to do those dirty, wicked jobs."

Rep. King told Kelly on Monday there must be "more surveillance" in Muslim American communities.

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