The Investigative Project on Terrorism
The State Department is vociferously defending its decision to send Muslim Public Affairs Council boss Salam al-Marayati to represent the United States at a recent 10-day human rights conference in Poland. He “has been involved in U.S. government initiatives for almost 10 years and has been a valued and highly credible interlocutor on issues affecting Muslim communities,” a State Department spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon, adding that al-Marayati was invited to participate in the meeting “as a reflection of the wide diversity of backgrounds of the American people.”
If the al-Marayati choice is any indication, that “diversity” apparently extends to anti-Israel ideologues who attack U.S. terrorism prosecutions, whitewash Hamas war crimes, and portray Iran as a victim of U.S. perfidy. And he runs an organization which opposes key elements of American counter-terror policies, including the drone strike which killed American-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the closing of terror-supporting charities and sting operations against would-be homegrown terrorists.
A year ago, al-Marayati even threatened to sever ties with the U.S. government in a strongly-worded Los Angeles Times op-ed column. Expressing anger over the use of “anti-Muslim” training materials by the FBI and a U.S. Attorney’s office, al-Marayati wrote: “If this matter is not immediately addressed, it will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community—another example of the ineptitude and/or apathy undermining bridges built with care over decades.”
In spite of MPAC’s hostile view of government policies, administration officials routinely turn to MPAC for policy advice, including the training materials al-Marayati ranted about in the Times. In February, MPAC officials met with FBI Director Robert Mueller to discuss training materials about Islam. That same month, MPAC officials met with top Pentagon leaders to receive an apology over a recent incident involving Quran burnings in Afghanistan.
In 2010, the State Department sent al-Marayati to Paris and Geneva to speak to United Nations groups about religious freedom and free speech.
Don’t take our word for it when it comes to al-Marayati’s extreme views toward Israel, U.S. policy and law enforcement. Watch and listen to the following examples from al-Marayati’s mouth:
In a January 2012 appearance on Russia TV’s “Cross Talk,” al-Marayati depicted Iran as the victim in the diplomatic crisis over its illicit nuclear program.
“The problem in the case of Iran is that it is singled out as the threat. We [the U.S.] don’t want to deal with North Korea the same way we deal with Iran,” he said. “With other countries, we utilize the IAEA, we use multilateral instruments to deal with the nuclear problem. In this case of Iran, there is no dialogue, there is (sic) no negotiations, it is all confrontational policies that is (sic) part of a war-mongering mentality here in the U.S. and they’re just waiting for the tripwire and then the machinery of war will begin.”
Al-Marayati also suggested that Israel is controlling U.S. foreign policy. “The other point here, which is very important historically, the United States has done a lot of dirty work that has served the interests of Israel,” he said. “It destroyed Iraq. It supported the destruction and crippling of Egypt. It has crippled the Gulf. And now, it is looking to Iran as the next target for crippling and destroying. I think this is madness. Who is driving our foreign policy – President Obama or Prime Minister Netanyahu?”
In July 2006 during the Israel-Hizballah war, al-Marayati declared that the Holocaust was no excuse for Israeli “dehumanization” of Arab peoples:
“We’re against Holocaust denial, but we’re also against people who exploit that as a way of shoving this kind of war propaganda and dehumanization of the Arab peoples and the Muslim peoples as if they have to pay the price for what Nazi Germany did to the Jews back in the 20th century.”
Al-Marayati has harshly criticized U.S. terrorism prosecutions.
At a March 12, 2006 fundraising dinner for Sami Al-Arian, he likened the prosecution to the detention of innocent Japanese civilians in the U.S. during World War II. Al-Marayati suggested that “we are being dictated upon, not only on terminology, but dictated upon on who speaks for us, and our organizations, our charities, are shut down one by one. Therefore, brothers and sisters, there is a storm that it is coming. That storm is going to be worse than Japanese internment.”
Al-Marayati called Al-Arian “the gentleman who defied the odds in a system that is unfair, and there is no way you can get a fair trial in view of any of these issues today. But regardless, he was able to defy the odds and he was acquitted of all the terrorism charges that were levied against him.”
One month later, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated terrorist organization, in violation of U.S. law.
“You laughed when you heard about the bombings” carried out by the PIJ, U.S. District Judge James Moody told Al-Arian in pronouncing sentence, calling him a “master manipulator.”
Speaking to a Dallas audience in 2005, al-Marayati attacked law enforcement’s use of informants in terrorism investigations. He blasted the government for using informants in the case against Umer and Hamid Hayat, a father and son living in Lodi, Calif. “The disaster of Lodi is that Muslims were reporting each other to the authorities, saying: ‘Oh, this person is an extremist.’ … This is the model not to follow.”
This disaster resulted in the convictions of the Hayats on charges of providing material support to al-Qaida and making false statements. Hamid Hayat was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
After federal authorities in May 2009 disrupted a plot to bomb synagogues and fire missiles at U.S. military aircraft, al-Marayati criticized the prosecution. “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.
The four men convicted in the plot were convicted and sentenced to 25-year prison terms.
At a minimum, Marayati’s long record of whitewashing terrorism, trivializing the Holocaust, and denigrating law enforcement’s work in protecting Americans from jihadist terror raises serious questions about the State Department’s judgment in deciding who should represent the United States abroad. Making taxpayers foot the bill to send the likes of Marayati overseas is the height of folly and legitimizes an official and his organization that often works against the same government that legitimizes it with such significant access.