Pete Hoekstra, a former 18-year Republican congressman from Michigan who served for several years as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, was nominated by President Donald Trump last July to serve as ambassador to the Netherlands and confirmed by the Senate in November.
After leaving Congress in 2011, Hoekstra in 2014 joined the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit group that describes itself as the "world's most comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist groups."
A KFile review of Hoekstra's time with the group reveals he claimed on multiple occasions that there are "no-go zones" in European cities and speculated as much as 15% of Muslims are extremists, a number that totals 270 million. He also promoted conspiracy theories asserting longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and said he considered the possibility that then-President Barack Obama was allowing radical Islam to proliferate on purpose.
Hoekstra was also a frequent guest on a radio program hosted by Frank Gaffney, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist based in Washington who warns of the "creeping" influence of Sharia law worldwide.
Hoekstra drew criticism last month for denying in an interview with the Dutch news program Nieuwsuur that he made comments in 2015 asserting that there are Muslim-controlled neighborhoods in Europe that are so dangerous that non-Muslims cannot enter.
There is no evidence to support claims of so-called "no-go zones" in Europe. In 2015, Fox News had to issue an apology and a correction for comments made by a pundit on its air claiming the existence of such zones across Europe. That pundit was Steve Emerson, who runs the Investigative Project on Terrorism where Hoekstra served as a fellow.
Hoekstra apologized for initially denying he made the remarks in the interview with Nieuwsuur, writing in a tweet that he looked "forward to the opportunity to learn, to listen and to move on in the spirit of peace and friendship with the people and the leaders of the Netherlands."
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the State Department pointed to Hoekstra's earlier statement on Twitter. A representative from the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Hoekstra has made false claims about "no-go zones" several times. In a 2016 radio interview, he told Gaffney, "You know there are no-go zones in Europe, areas that you know law enforcement and civil society by the government cannot be enforced, and you know they have become safe havens and sanctuary areas for the radical jihadist movement."
"They are places that, you're right, these groups can find safe havens. But at the same time, they have allowed the mosques to preach radical jihadism, so the mosques are training centers."
Hoekstra made similar claims in an Internet radio show
, on DC local radio
and in a NewsMax op-ed
In a 2016 speech
to activists in Colorado, Hoekstra said there are parts of Europe where Sharia law is allowed.
"Look at what's going on in Europe in large parts of, you know, in many parts of Europe there are, there are, there are little enclaves or areas where they allow for Sharia law," Hoekstra said.