Tags: Salam | Al | Marayati | MPAC

Muslim Leader Sugarcoats Terrorist Operations

Monday, 05 Oct 2009 05:24 PM

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During the Cold War, the term "anti-anti-Communist" was used to describe people who were not Communists themselves, but who objected to every practical initiative to counter Soviet and Red Chinese expansionism.

In today's struggle against radical Islamists, Salam Al-Marayati, a founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and its current executive director, can fairly be described as an "anti-anti-terrorist" — someone who rhetorically opposes Islamist terror but objects to virtually every practical measure that democracies take to defend themselves.

While condemning terror in vague or general terms, Al-Marayati and MPAC focus their attacks on U.S. and Israeli security measures like Israeli military operations against Hamas or U.S. investigations of domestic terrorism.

Al-Marayati has long belittled the importance of using informants to monitor "homegrown" terror cells, as in this case in which two Lodi, California men were convicted.

In May, after federal authorities disrupted an alleged plot to bomb synagogues and fire missiles at American military aircraft, Al-Marayati continued his attacks against law enforcement. Asked in an interview whether it was useful to have informants in mosques, Al-Marayati implied that the investigation was a waste of money.

"These were individuals who were either petty criminals or gullible people who were guilty of stupidity. They were not imminent threats to our country, as the FBI has stated," Al-Marayati told Fox News. "We want those tax dollars to be used to fight al-Qaida, not to entrap people who are just gullible."

Al-Marayati's personal charisma and general rhetoric about opposing terrorism have enabled him to escape serious scrutiny from the mainstream media. MPAC has issued statements criticizing Osama bin Laden and stating its opposition to terrorism without criticizing specific groups. As a result, it has received favorable media treatment it can post on its Web site.

Among the articles linked by MPAC is a 2005 column in which the Wall Street Journal's George Melloan praised MPAC as an organization that is "trying to promote better relations between Muslims and law-enforcement agencies" and launching "its own counterterrorism and civil-rights campaign, working with imams at mosques, Muslim community leaders, law-enforcement agencies, and the media."

Both Democratic and Republican administrations have long consulted MPAC and met with its leadership to discuss terror-related subjects.

MPAC posted a Sept. 17 article boasting that, "This month, MPAC-DC has participated in about a dozen iftar dinner events sponsored by various government agencies. In the past week, we've attended iftars hosted by the State Department." The story links to a video of Secretary of State Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and State Department Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith.

The Web site also includes a story about a Capitol Hill iftar co-hosted by MPAC and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) reporting that "special guests in attendance came from the White House, State Department, Department of Defense, The Pentagon and Islamic Relief."

The left-wing Jewish organization J Street has invited Al-Marayati to address a late-October conference in Washington, D.C. The move triggered considerable controversy within the American Jewish community, which urged J Street not to invite the MPAC leader. It cites numerous "hateful anti-Israel and anti-American statements" made by the MPAC leader. These have included remarks likening supporters of Israel to Hitler and comments minimizing Hezbollah's massacre of 241 U.S. Marines in 1983.

Al- Marayati responded with this op-ed praising "progressive thinkers and activists" like MPAC and J Street for striving "to develop mutual respect between Muslims and Jews." He wrote that such a dialogue would "enrich the national conversation around the prospects for a durable solution to" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But judging from his record, it is difficult to see how Al-Marayati could play a constructive role. Time and again he has made statements suggesting that American Jews and Zionists exert a disproportionate influence in American political debate. He has accused Israel of "dehumanization" of Arabs and of "the massacre of Palestinians" during the December/January war against Hamas in Gaza. Al-Marayati and MPAC have suggested the Jewish State may have been behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and likened supporters of Israel to Hitler.

Here is a small sampling of objectionable Al-Marayati and MPAC statements and writings:

  • Attacking Israel and whitewashing Hamas war crimes. In a Jan. 19, 2009, Op-Ed published in the Los Angeles Times, Al-Marayati attacked Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca for supporting Israel's military operation against Hamas' terror infrastructure in Gaza. As American public officials endorse Israel's "disproportionate military attacks against the Palestinians – put alongside images of carnage in Gaza," Al-Marayati wrote, they create "the best possible propaganda for fueling anti-Americanism in the Muslim world."

  • Suggesting that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad do not belong on the U.S. government's list of terrorist groups. In a 2003 counterterrorism paper advocating removal of all three terrorist organizations from the U.S. terrorism list, MPAC said that Washington's "preoccupation" with these groups "raises the question as to whether targeting Palestinian groups serves true national security interests or is based on political considerations."

    A 1999 MPAC counterterrorism paper tried to minimize Hizballah's bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983: "This attack, for all the pain it caused, was not in a strict sense a terrorist operation. It was a military operation, producing no civilian casualties — exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washington's enemies."

  • Likening Israeli policy toward the Palestinians to South African apartheid. In 2008, MPAC published “A Resource Toolkit on 60 Years of Palestinian Suffering” (1948-2008). In the introduction, the group asserted that Palestinians live under an "apartheid" system — thereby likening Israel's actions to those of the white-minority government that oppressed South African blacks for much of the 20th century.

    With Salam Al-Marayati's long record of anti-Jewish statements and opposition to virtually every measure the United States and fellow democracies take to defend themselves against terrorism, the notion that he has a constructive role to play in Muslim-Jewish dialogue or shaping U.S. security policy seems almost surreal.

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