Thoughts and Truth from the Impossible Life

Terrorist in US – Salam al-Marayati

Salam al-Marayati

A founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and its current executive director, Salam al-Marayati’s family moved to the United States from Iraq when he was a young boy.[1] He gained national attention in 1999, when then-House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt nominated him to serve on the National Commission on Terrorism. Gephardt later withdrew the nomination after a public backlash highlighted al-Marayati’s defense of terrorist acts and the groups who carry them out.[2]

Al-Marayati’s record on defending terrorist groups and extremists is substantial. During a 2002 speech at the State Department, Salam al-Marayati, said, “Rashid Ghannouchi is an example of those who promote this need for dialogue between civilizations, not confrontation.”[3] Ghannoushi was the head of Tunisia’s banned Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Al-Nahda Party and was convicted by a Tunisian court of responsibility for a bomb blast that blew the foot off a British tourist.[4]

In a 1999 PBS interview, he called Hizballah attacks “legitimate resistance,”[5] but later added “when a Muslim commits an act of terrorism, we stand very loudly and clearly against that Muslim that committed that act of violence.”[6]

Yet in 1996, he issued no condemnation for a man who crashed his car into a crowded Jerusalem bus stop, shouting Allahu Akbar. One person was killed and 23 others injured in the incident. The attacker was shot dead at the scene, something al-Marayati condemned as a “provocative act” and he called for the shooter’s extradition to the United States to stand trial.[7]

Al-Marayati has continued to attempt to minimize terrorist attacks by Muslims, decry U.S. government anti-terrorism measures, and blame anything he can on the state of Israel. For instance, on September 11, 2001, on a Los Angeles radio program al-Marayati said, “”If we’re going to look at suspects, we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.”[8]

Two years later, in a March 2003 Los Angeles Times article, Salam al-Marayati blasted the FBI, stating that they had been targeting people on the basis of race and religion.[9] Ignoring several prominent terrorism cases across the country, he added, “That’s what they’ve been doing since the attacks, and we don’t know of any case that has resulted in the arrest, indictment or prosecution of a terrorist.”[10]

Commenting on the government’s actions against alleged terrorist financiers, specifically of Rafil Dhafir of Help the Needy (indicted in February 2003, convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2005) and his cohorts, in October 2004, Salam al-Marayati said, “It is a sham. You just hope at the end of a long battle these people can be vindicated because they did nothing wrong.”[11]

In response to the government’s recent refusal to grant MPAC’s request to release Holy Land Foundation, Benevolence International Foundation, and Global Relief Foundation funds to a third-party,[12] al-Marayati asserted, in 2004, that “the government…betrayed us.”[13]

At a fundraising dinner for Palestinian Islamic Jihad member Sami Al-Arian in Anaheim, California in 2006, al-Marayati said to the attendees, “So if we have this case where 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 is coming. That storm is going to be worse than Japanese internment.”[14]

Beyond the effect these words may have in causing hysteria, distrust, and fear in the Muslim-American community, al-Marayati has advised Muslims to shun FBI efforts to recruit informants. Speaking to an audience in Dallas in 2005, he stated, “We reject any efforts, notion, suggestion that Muslim should start spying on one another. In fact if you look at the Lodi case, the disaster of Lodi is that Muslims were reporting each other to the authorities saying, ‘Oh, this person is an extremist’ and the other camp saying the same things so both of them got in trouble. So, we are, this is the model not to follow.”[15]

MPAC, meanwhile, has issued policy papers which argue for the removal of Hizballah and Hamas from U.S. terrorist designations. The 1999 counterterrorism “policy paper” asks “…is Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which calls for the creation of an Islamic republic, a terrorist organization? Again, most of its members are not actively involved in terror.”

It then tries to minimize Hizballah’s brutal attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 — an attack which killed 241 U.S. military personnel:

“…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.” (emphasis added) [16]

The 2003 counterterrorism paper advocated removing Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hizballah from the federal government’s list of designated terrorist groups. It reads:

Meanwhile, Arab states question Washington’s list of designated pro-Palestinian groups and humanitarian organizations. It is clear that the current terrorist threat to the US emanates from Al-Qaeda and not Palestinian groups. There is no evidence that Palestinian groups designated as terrorist organizations have any connections to Al-Qaeda. Yet the preoccupation with these groups raises the question as to whether targeting Palestinian groups serves true national security interests or is based on political considerations. [17]

[1] “Salam al-Marayati,” Muslim WaveLength Website (in association with IslamiCity and MPAC), http://www.islamicity.com/mpac/salam_al-marayati.shtm (Accessed August 17, 2007).

[2] “U.S. Muslim leader denies he’s terrorist sympathizer,” CNN, July 29, 1999, http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/07/29/terrorism.commission/ (Accessed August 17, 2007).

[3] “MPAC’s Speech on Moderation at the State Department,” January 28, 2002, http://www.mpac.org/popa_article_display.aspx?ITEM=178 (accessed August 23, 2004).

[4] Michael Binyon, “Britain Shuts Door on Fundamentalists,” The Times, January 5, 1996. Note: According to The Sunday Telegraph, Ghannouchi was “rounded up with several thousand other opponents of the Tunisian government following an alleged plot to assassinate the country’s president, Ben Ali, in 1991.” See: Con Coughlin, “Senators fight to keep sheikh out of the US State Department told of Islamic fundamentalist’s alleged links with terrorism,” Sunday Telegraph, May 22, 1994

[5] Salam al-Marayati, “Muslims in America.” NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS, November 24, 1999

[6] Salam al-Marayati, “Muslims in America.” NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS, November 24, 1999

[7] The Minaret, March 1996.

[8] Larry Stammer, “After the Attack: Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Newly Tested,” The Los Angeles Times, September 22, 2001.

[9] H.G. Reza ,”FBI Has a Pledge and a Request for Muslims,” The Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2003.

[10] H.G. Reza ,”FBI Has a Pledge and a Request for Muslims,” The Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2003.

[11] Renee Gadoua, “Muslim Vote’s Impact Weighed,” The Post-Standard, October 12, 2004.

[12] Gregory Vistica, “Frozen Assets Going to Legal Bills,” The Washington Post, November 1, 2003 and “Steve Emerson’s Self-Serving Distortions,” MPAC Press Release, January 28, 2004, http://www.mpac.org/news_article_display.aspx?ITEM=639 (accessed July 21, 2004).

[13] Audio recording, “The Shape of the American Muslim Community in the Next Decade,” MPAC, Houston, Texas, June 18, 2004.

[14] Salam al-Marayati, Audio Recording, Sami al-Arian Banquet Dinner, Anaheim, CA, March 12, 2006.

[15] ISNA Dallas Conference. July 1-3, 2005.

[16] “A Position Paper on U.S. Counterterrorism Policy,” Muslim Public Affairs Council, June 1999.

[17] “A Review of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy: American Muslim Critique & Recommendations,” Muslim Public Affairs Council, September 2003. http://www.mpac.org/publications/counterterrorism-policy-paper/counterterrorism-policy-paper.pdf

December 26, 2010 - Posted by | Constitutional Issues, Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

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