New York Rep. Peter King will begin his hearings about The Growing Threat of Radicalized American Muslims in Congress tomorrow. See that, American Muslims? You get hearings now. You can thank Pete King later.

But the strange thing about King, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, is that he used to love terrorists. His history of support for the IRA during the '80s has been brought up several times since he announced his plans for home-grown Islamic radicalization hearings late last year, but the New York Times offers a good briefing today:

Long before he became an outspoken voice in Congress about the threat from terrorism, he was a fervent supporter of a terrorist group, the Irish Republican Army.

"We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry," Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it."

As Mr. King, a Republican, rose as a Long Island politician in the 1980s, benefiting from strong Irish-American support, the I.R.A. was carrying out a bloody campaign of bombing and sniping, targeting the British Army, Protestant paramilitaries and sometimes pubs and other civilian gathering spots. His statements, along with his close ties to key figures in the military and political wings of the I.R.A., drew the attention of British and American authorities.

The Secret Service investigated him as a "security risk" in 1984. That same year, as the Times writes, "A judge in Belfast threw him out of an I.R.A. murder trial, calling him an 'obvious collaborator.'"

So maybe these hearings won't be so adversarial after all. Maybe Pete King will end up liking the rent-a-radicals he marches into the committee room. Maybe Pete King will join Al Qaeda after reading their brochure! Let's all hope.

[Image via AP]