Extremism, Peter King, and Joe Doherty, IRA Soldier:
Whether or not you believed in the cause, for the British government, the Irish Republican Army was a terrorist organization that committed terrorist acts. Indeed, any group of "freedom fighters" that uses violence to, you know, harm people and, you know, terrorize others would be, in any context, a terrorist organization. Here's the FBI's definition of "terrorism": "The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." Yep, the IRA counts.
The thing about terrorists is that there's ones you support and there's ones you don't. You may be all for the rights of the Palestinians, but when some non-Israeli from Gaza commits violence against Israel, that's terrorism. In Libya, you can sure as hell bet that the Gaddafi regime considers the violence against it terrorism. They are merely the terrorists we in the United States happen to like. Yes, terrorists can become an army in a war against a corrupt government or an occupying power. But they're still terrorists until they take over. Like, you know, the colonists who fought the American Revolution.
Joe Doherty was not an innocent caught in a web of lies when he became one of the IRA's most-celebrated terrorists. He was convicted in abstentia in 1981 of the murder of a British soldier. He and three other IRA members took over a house in Belfast, locking the occupants in back room, which is generally known as "kidnapping." They intended to ambush a convoy of soliders and shoot at them with M60s from the upper floors of the house. But the soldiers got wind of the plan, and special forces went into the house. In the shoot-out that occurred, one officer was killed. Doherty escaped from jail during his trial and tried to seek refuge in the United States, but, after a nearly decade-long legal battle, during which he was imprisoned here, he was sent back to Northern Ireland to serve his sentence.
Interesting thing about Joe Doherty is that his direct treatment by the British is what radicalized him. Under the 1922 Special Powers Act for Northern Ireland, which granted the British military to arrest and hold anyone without trial, he was kept for months on a prison ship and then an internment camp. Mostly, he was picked up because of the people he associated with in his Belfast neighborhood. As much or as little as he supported the IRA prior to his detention, he went into the Active Service Unit afterward. In his 20s, he was interrogated and tortured by British soldiers for seven days before being imprisoned again. The British were bastards about Northern Ireland. Things like indefinite detention and torture, though, tend to make people angry towards their captors, as we well, well know.
The issue here is not to re-argue the extradition fight over Joe Doherty. The convicted murderer was in prison until 1998, and he now works helping youths in trouble and ex-convicts. When the Reagan and the Bush I administrations were trying to get Doherty extradited, the man who had gunned down a British officer had the backing of over a hundred members of Congress and a large fan base in the American public and media.
He had the backing of Nassau County Comptroller Peter King, who in 1992 said of the decision to send Doherty home, "It's a disgrace, an absolute disgrace...The Bush Administration has really turned its back on America's tradition of being a sanctuary for political refugees. They've allowed their interests with the British Foreign Office to impede justice." In 1988, so outraged was King about Attorney General Edwin Meese's refusal to negotiate on extradition, he said, "[Meese] might as well have been on the payroll of the British foreign office." As has been well-documented at this point, now-Representative Peter King had a long history of supporting the IRA. Some of that support, like speaking at pro-IRA-rallies, would have ended his career if he had been talking to, say, Americans for al-Qaeda or something. But, ah, yes, we do pick and choose our terrorists.
So while King can hold his hearings on Muslim extremism, as is his right as chair of the Homeland Security Committee, and he can talk all he wants about Muslims recruiting terrorists right here in the United States, well, we already know that Americans can support terrorists with all their heart, to the point where they want kidnappers and killers to go free, because Peter King did so.