Peter King: Arrest shows NY, LI No. 1 terror target

advertisement | advertise on newsday

News that a Patchogue man was identified in a plot to give al-Qaida vital information about the Long Island Rail Road and the city's subway system is another example of New York's vulnerability to so-called "homegrown terrorism," Rep. Peter King said Wednesdsay.

"This shows that New York and Long Island are the number one target of the terrorists and that our mass transit system is a top target," said King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security committee.

While the Long Island Rail Road and city subways are "very hard to defend" because of their numerous stations and sheer size, King said law enforcement is doing the best job possible in defending them.

But King also repeated his earlier criticisms that Long Island mosques - some of which he said are under surveillance - are fostering extremist views linked to terrorism. Islamic groups have refuted King's criticisms, saying they should not be unfairly targeted.

"The real threat are these homegrown terrorists who are living in our midst," King said. Although he stressed that local mosques are not involved in criminal activity, King said they are not doing enough to discourage local members from extremist views.

However, Omar Chaudhry, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, said his group meets regularly with local police and records services to identify any inflammatory statements.

"I understand Peter King's concerns, both as an American and someone who rides the LIRR," Chaudhry said. "But Peter King needs to separate the good guys from the bad guys, and we're doing that."

FBI spokesman James Margolin said Wednesday that, "The FBI policy is that we do not target houses of worship. Investigations are predicated on allegations of conduct by individuals or groups that constitute violations of federal law or threats to national security."

With Robert E. Kessler

The best of Newsday everyday in your inbox. Get the Newsday Now newsletter!

You also may be interested in: