On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda operatives slaughtered nearly 3,000 Americans in an operation that marked the second major attack by violent jihadists against the World Trade Center. There wasn’t much mystery about who had carried out these atrocities — unless you were Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Marayati warned Americans not to conclude that the suicide hijacking attacks were the work of Muslim terrorists. “If we are going to look at suspects,” he told a Los Angeles radio station, “we should look at groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the State of Israel on the suspect list.”
Having just returned from the beleaguered State of Israel, Mitt Romney, one hopes, will move Marayati’s reckless slander to the front of his mind. MPAC is attempting to inject itself into the controversy over calls by Representative Michele Bachmann and four other House conservatives for an examination of Islamist influence on our government. As the indispensable Patrick Poole reports, Monday’s scheduled MPAC demonstration was a bust: The group tried to agitate outside the Republican National Committee in Washington, in order to pressure Governor Romney, the putative GOP standard-bearer, to condemn Bachmann and her colleagues. But the “rally” fizzled because of lack of interest. Still, MPAC is sure to keep pushing.
Established in 1988 by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood and admirers of Hezbollah, MPAC styles itself a “moderate, inclusive and forward-thinking organization with a history of fostering a strong Muslim American identity, and combating terrorism and extremism.” In reality, MPAC is yet another Islamist wolf in the “social justice” clothing of the hard Left. Its founders include Hassan Hathout, the former MPAC president who has described himself as “a close disciple” of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. Hathout’s brother Maher, a senior MPAC adviser, is lavish in his praise of both Hezbollah’s “freedom fighting” and the social-justice pioneering of Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of Sudan’s National Islamic Front — the genocidal junta that gave safe haven to al-Qaeda in the early 1990s while imposing sharia on that war-torn east African nation.
Their Islamist sympathies aside, Marayati & Co. are Democratic-party activists and programmatic leftists, championing Obamacare, condemning post-9/11 national-security measures, and demagoguing conservatives. Daniel Pipes has recounted that Marayati was a member of the Executive Committee of the California Democratic party and served as a Clinton delegate at the 1996 Democratic Convention. As I outlined in The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, such cross-pollination between Islamists and leftists is commonplace. The anti-Islamist activist M. Zuhdi Jasser, a staunchly pro-American Muslim, aptly describes American Islamist organizations like MPAC as “collectivist groups.” They fall in line with the Muslim Brotherhood’s leftist orientation, seeking to “increase the power of government through entitlement programs, increased taxation, and restricting free markets whenever and wherever possible.”
Marayati first came to public attention in the late Nineties, when the Democrats’ then-leader in the House, Richard Gephardt, nominated him to serve on the National Commission on Terrorism — a nomination that Gephardt later withdrew when it emerged that Marayati had spoken sympathetically of violent jihad. In 1993, for example, Marayati had proclaimed, “When Patrick Henry said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ that statement epitomized jihad.” Equally absurdly, he later analogized Islamic terrorists to “American freedom fighters hundreds of years ago [who] were also regarded as terrorists by the British.” Obviously, as Pipes observed, Marayati’s intent was “to render jihad and terrorism acceptable to Americans.”
While Democrats had hoped to raise Marayati’s profile, the exposition of his track record raised too many questions about his judgment. That problem intensified as the record became better known. In 1996, for instance, a Palestinian terrorist named Muhammad Hamida plowed his car into a crowded Jerusalem bus stop, killing one Israeli and injuring 23 others as he screamed “Allahu Akbar!” He was shot on the scene, before he could do any more harm. Immediately afterwards, while mum on the jihadist’s atrocity, Marayati demanded that the shooters of the jihadist be extradited to the United States to face trial on “terrorism charges” for this “provocative act.”