Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) smacked down Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) attempt to link Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Islamic extremists based in the American Muslim community with no evidence, an allegation that emerged as part of a theme among House Republicans on Sunday morning.
The exchange between Feinstein and King took place on Fox News Sunday, when host Chris Wallace asked whether he agreed with the idea that “political correctness be damned, we have to do more effective surveillance inside the Muslim community.” King tried to link “Muslim communities” to the attack, a claim which Feinstein demolished:
KING: Listen, the threat is coming from within the Muslim community in these cases. In New York. that’s why Commissioner Kelly has 1,000 police officers out in the community. Unfortunately, he gets smeared by the New York Times and the Associated Press, but the fact is we’ve stopped 16 plots in New York because we know that al-Qaeda is shifting its tactics…If you know a certain threat is coming from a certain community, that’s where you have to look.
WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, your reaction to this?
FEINSTEIN: That’s exactly where they will look. I don’t think all of this is very helpful. I think the important thing is to get the facts. Let the investigation proceed. The FBI has very good interrogators. They know what they are doing. I believe that they will put a case together that will be very strong. With respect to whether we are doing enough in the Muslim community, I think we should take a look at that, but I don’t think we need to go and develop some real disdain and hatred on television about it.
As Feinstein implies, King’s speculation about the Muslim community playing some role in the Boston bombing is entirely unconnected to the available facts. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) has written that “I am not aware of any evidence so far that the Boston suspect is part of any organized group, let alone al Qaeda, the Taliban, or one of their affiliates.” Nor does there exist any evidence that Tamerlan or Dzhokhar were radicalized as a consequence of contact with person or persons in the American Muslim community.
While King suggested that stepped-up NYPD surveillance of Muslims should be a model for the nation, the program terrified the Muslim community while failing to produce a single actionable lead or investigation.
King was not the only House Republican to speculate without evidence about a connection between the Tsarnaevs and jihadists. On CNN’s State of the Union, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) speculated that Tamerlan was trained by al-Qaeda during a 2012 visit to Chechnya, once again lacking any direct evidence for the charge. Though Islamist terrorist groups are often quick to take responsibility for attacks, the Caucusus Emirate, the main Islamist terrorist group in the region, denied any connection to the bombers and said “we are not fighting against the United States of America.”