Rep. Peter King (R-NY) announced today that conservative terrorism scholar Walid Phares will not testify at his controversial hearings on radical Islam. Earlier this month, King told the National Review that Phares was one of two Muslim witnesses he intended to rely on. Many people quickly noted that Phares is not, in fact, Muslim, and yesterday, the Council on American Islamic Relations sent King a letter protesting Phares’ appearance based on his prior involvement with a Christian militia that tortured and killed Muslims:
Mr. Phares’s prior position in and association with organizations and militia groups known for carrying out massacres and systematic torture raise reasonable concerns regarding his relevance to any sober and objective hearing.
Mr. Phares is a “former official with the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia.” This militia was implicated, by Israel’s official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. Regarding the massacre, the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that, “Lebanese militias, notably the Lebanese Forces, went on a killing spree.” [...]
The threat of violent extremism to our nation is a profoundly serious issue. We agree with you that political correctness should not interfere in any serious investigation of threats to our nation. However, we do believe that reliable witnesses and verifiable information are crucial to properly evaluating the threat.
We therefore respectfully request that you drop Walid Phares as a witness for your planned hearing and reiterate our request that you meet with national leaders of the American Muslim community to discuss the negative impact your hearings could have on ordinary American Muslims.
Through a spokesperson, King told Politico today that “As of now, [Phares] is not testifying.” It’s not clear who will be testifying, besides Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, an Arizona physician and military veteran, whom King also mentioned in the National Review article. King also planned to feature Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has said Islam is a “cult”, but he removed her from the witness list earlier this month following an outcry.
While Phares is apparently too controversial for King, he remains an attractive guest for Fox News, which employs him as a terrorism analyst. Just this week, Phares has done multiple segments on the unrest in Libya, and he frequently parrots stale conservative talking points about the Obama administration’s anti-terror policies, such as the (false) criticism that the administration purposely avoids the word jihadist.