A highly controversial Muslim leader appeared on a panel with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Los Angeles last month. Salam al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), was kicked off of a congressional terrorism commission in 1999 when his organization’s open support for terrorist organizations was brought to light.
Marayati came under fire again just a few years later when on the day of the 9/11 attacks he fingered Israel as the culprit in a radio interview on a Los Angeles radio station.
Under his continued leadership, MPAC continues to promote extremist conspiracy theories, including accusations published on the group’s website in 2010 that Israel was harvesting the organs of Palestinians — a claim that was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League as a blood libel.
But Marayati’s appearance with Hillary Clinton is hardly unusual, as the relationship with the Clinton family goes back to 1996 — when he served as a delegate for Bill Clinton during the Democratic National Convention that year.
Waves of controversy have not stopped Hillary Clinton from continuing to promote Marayati, including appointing him to positions during her tenure as Obama’s secretary of State. So his appearance at the March 24th campaign panel held at the University of Southern California is no surprise.
Marayati first came to public attention in 1999, when his appointment by then-House Democratic Minority Leader Dick Gephardt to a congressional terrorism commission was opposed by Jewish groups outraged by MPAC’s open defense of terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah. A summary of MPAC’s extremist views was later published in a press release by the Journal of Counterterrorism and Security International.
Amidst this controversy over his appointment, MPAC published a policy paper that defended the Hezbollah terror attack on U.S. peacekeepers in Beirut that killed 241 as legitimate resistance and not really a terror attack:
After his appointment was withdrawn by Rep. Gephardt, just a few months later he appeared on PBS NewsHour (as noted by my PJ Media colleague Andrew McCarthy) saying that Hezbollah’s terrorism was “legitimate resistance.”
Controversy continued to follow Marayati, including his statements made on the day of the 9/11 attack. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Marayati appeared on a Los Angeles radio show where he identified Israel, and not Islamic terrorists, as the true culprit behind the terror attack:
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. Why not put all the suspects on the list, instead of going ahead and shooting from the hip and saying those people did it and bombing the cornfields of Afghanistan and pharmaceutical factories of Sudan. . . .
Two weeks later, after fingering Israel for being behind the attacks, Marayati was invited to the White House as part of a delegation of Muslim leaders to meet with President George W. Bush, though he was hardly the only leader at that meeting who had expressed support for Islamic terrorism.
MPAC’s extremism under Marayati has continued into the Obama administration.
A February 2010 report by the Anti-Defamation League noted that MPAC had published on their website a claim — later widely debunked — that Israel was harvesting the organs of Palestinians, which ADL termed “a new blood libel”:
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a Los Angeles-based group that presents itself as a moderate voice of Islam in the U.S., called for an international investigation for alleged war crimes based on the original allegations in the Swedish newspaper. MPAC also suggested that Israel’s efforts to defend itself from the organ trafficking claims illustrated its tendency to bully critics of Israel with charges of anti-Semitism.
Despite those blood libel claims and Marayati’s long history of extremist statements, Marayati has been a regular visitor to the White House. This includes Obama’s Ramadan Iftar dinners, though in 2014 MPAC denounced the president’s support for Israel, which was under attack from rockets fired by Palestinian terror groups during the Iftar dinner that year.
In 2012, Marayati was selected by Hillary Clinton’s State Department to represent the United States at a 10-day Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) human rights conference in Warsaw, Poland.
When protests predictably arose from Marayati’s appointment to the U.S. OSCE delegation to Warsaw — the site of one of the largest Jewish ghettos during the Holocaust — the State Department, under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, defended Marayati as “valued and highly credible.”
That response from the State Department prompted Rep. Jim Jordan, then head of the U.S. House Republican Study Committee, to send a letter to Hillary Clinton, calling the defense of Marayati “outlandish.”
Last year, MPAC touted its inclusion in the three-day White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, where Vice President Joe Biden gave MPAC and its “Safe Spaces Initiative” a shout-out during the meeting.
— MPAC (@mpac_national) February 17, 2015
MPAC’s “Safe Spaces Initiative” was included in the White House-backed Los Angeles Framework for Countering Violent Extremism; Los Angeles is one of three cities receiving Obama administration support to “counter violent extremism.”
As I noted here at PJ Media just a few days ago, these local CVE programs have thus far been largely unsuccessful, and even the supporters of these CVE programs are reduced to defending these programs by saying that even if they don’t work they are still helpful.
With the advice and direction of Muslim leaders like Salam al-Marayati, is it any wonder then that the Obama administration’s counterterrorism efforts have been a complete disaster? And yet by virtue of Marayati’s presence on her campaign panel, it seems that if elected president, Hillary Clinton will continue her embrace of extremists and extend the failed policies of her predecessor.