Republican Rep. Peter King, former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Friday the Chechen community in the United States doesn't have a history of radicalization but argued it's time to question whether that's changed.
In an interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," the longtime congressman from New York also said it was "offensive" for the parents of the two suspected bombers to argue their sons were being framed in the U.S.
While the two suspects in Monday's Boston Marathon bombing came to the U.S. with Kyrgyzstan passports, their family was from the volatile Russian Caucasus, an area that includes Chechnya and Dagestan.
King, who now serves as the chairman on the House subcommittee for counterterrorism and intelligence, said he's "never heard" of the Chechen community in the U.S. "having been radicalized."
Whether that has changed was a question worth asking, he said.
"We can't be politically correct. We have to say: Has radicalization extended into the Chechen community?"
King made headlines in 2011 for holding controversial hearings on the radicalization of Muslim Americans. On Friday, he further argued "we have to be very concerned about radical movements in this country or people in this community." While the U.S. relies strongly on foreign intelligence for potential terrorist attacks, he argued, the country needs better domestic intelligence.
"It's important for the local police to build up their intelligence to find out what's happening in the communities, among disaffected people, or people like these two brothers, who seemed to have everything going for them," he said.
Two sources told CNN Dzhokar Tsarnaev came to the U.S. as a tourist with his family in the early 2000s and later asked for asylum. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2012. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brother who died Thursday night, was not a naturalized citizen, a source said. He came "a few years later" and was lawfully in the country as a green-card holder.
Their parents have flatly denied that their sons could be involved in the recent violence. Anzor Tsarnayev, the father, told CNN in Dagestan that "someone framed them," while their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said "this is a setup."
But King said their remarks were "absolutely wrong and really offensive," given the United States "gave (the sons) sanctuary, gave them asylum."
"It's bad enough what their sons did. But for their parents to attack the country, to me is wrong," he said. "To be lashing out at the United States after what the United States did for them and the opportunities the United States gave to their sons is really going much, much too far and I just find it really wrong."