With friends like these

Salam al—Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), represents himself and his organization as stalwart opponents of terrorism who are actively working with the FBI and California law enforcement agencies to combat it. At a joint press conference with representatives of the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department on October 14 of this year, Marayati waxed expansive and almost poetic in his glowing account of his organization's cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the war against terrorism. MPAC has announced a 'National Anti—Terrorism Campaign,' and is holding its 4th annual conference (see its poster here) on December 18th around the theme 'Countering Religious and Political Extremism.' Note the way the poster implicitly equates Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, Pat Robertson and Donald Rumsfeld with Osama bin Laden.

For years now, al—Marayati and MPAC have represented themselves as opponents of terrorism, patriotic Americans, and friends of American law enforcement. Al—Marayati's unaccented American speech pattern—he has lived in the United States since he was five years old, although born in Iraq—further reinforces his carefully cultivated image as an all—American patriot.
 
But if we read the fine print at MPAC's website, we discover that its actual attitudes toward terrorism are quite different from Marayati's and MPAC's public aura. MPAC's writers wax eloquent enough when condemning 'terrorism' in general, but criticism of specific terrorist organizations in the Islamic world, and specific terrorist attacks on civilians, are few, brief, vague, and perfunctory.

When we do a web search of the MPAC site for discussions of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, for example, we find only two statements about the group. They are angry denunciations of Israel's 'attempted assassination' of Hamas's second in command, Abdel—Azziz al—Rantissi, and its subsequent 'assassination' of Hamas's founder and commander, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. While going on for over three hundred words denouncing an unsuccessful attack on one terrorist commander and a successful attack on another, plus devoting an additional 110 words to denouncing the U.S. government for allegedly being biased in favor of Israel, the unnamed MPAC editorialist takes less than 40 words to disassociate his organization from the murder of hundreds of innocents by operatives under Yassin's and Rantissi's command. The author characterizes Israel's strikes against terrorist chieftains in extremely harsh and angry language:

"an act of violence so severe and provocative that it represents a paradigm shifting this conflict that is most dangerous and ominous....Israel has now committed an act of state terrorism whose purpose and result can only be to profoundly escalate the Israeli—Palestinian conflict, a move so intensely dangerous that it should place Israel outside the community of civilized nations.... Sharon's latest crime.'

MPAC'S denunciation of the U.S. administration for failing to somehow protect Yassin is almost as furious:

'President Bush's call that both parties exercise restraint is hollow and simply insufficient and irresponsible——Sharon's latest escalation foregrounds how irresponsible the Bush administration's policy toward the Arab—Israeli conflict has been. Had our government been truly even—handed...this dangerous escalation may not have happened. The bankruptcy and wrong—headedness of our foreign policy toward the Middle East must finally be addressed and corrected by this administration.'

By way of contrast, MPAC's criticism of Hamas's murders of hundreds of defenseless noncombatants is brief and perfunctory. In connection with the strike against Rantissi, the MPAC author writes that 'this assassination triggered a reaction by extremists on the other side: a terrible attack carried out by Hamas....predictably, Hamas avenged the assassination of one of their leaders, derailing the peace process even further.' That's all.

In MPAC's subsequent press release about the 'assassination' of Ahmed Yassin, all it can muster by way of criticism of Hamas is a single sentence: 'MPAC has a long record of condemning terrorism, including terrorism perpetrated by Hamas.' (I have been unable to find any trace of this 'long standing record' on MPAC's website).

These perfunctory disclaimers of Hamas's bloodstained record contain no reference to the defenseless, unarmed people wantonly slaughtered by Hamas, the body parts strewn and the flesh and blood spattered on public streets, the hundreds of people hideously maimed and disfigured for life, the twisted metal remains of what had been peaceful civilian buses. The MPAC writer even goes so far as to characterize Hamas's murderous attacks as retaliation for Israeli strikes against the terrorist leaders—ignoring the hundreds of Hamas terrorist acts, the murders of so many women, children, elderly people, even babies, that were committed for eleven years before Rantissi and Yassin were finally struck down. The murder of innocents seems to trouble MPAC far less than the killing of the terrorist masterminds that had decreed their deaths.  By claiming that it is Israel's acts of self—defense against terrorists that are the cause of Palestinian terrorism, MPAC appears to in effect justify and excuse it.
 
MPAC's reaction to the death of Yassir Arafat is another case in point. MPAC's published eulogy for Arafat describes him as 'the revolutionary and statesman who championed the cause of the Palestinian people for over four decades.' There is not a mention of the thousands of people killed in terror attacks organized by Arafat and his minions over four decades, including eleven athletes at an international Olympic competition intended to celebrate peace and cooperation between nations, and two innocent American diplomats seized at a diplomatic mission, in violation of every international law and custom. Nor does MPAC have anything to say of Arafat's billions that he looted from Palestinian institutions for himself and his cronies.

The eulogy does mention that an Israeli cabinet member characterized Arafat as a terrorist shortly before he died. But MPAC's only reaction to this characterization is to lecture Israel for 'Allowing political grudges to supercede a dying man's wish [to be buried in Jerusalem].' As if the anger that Israelis feel towards a man who murdered thousands of their children, parents, brothers and sisters in cold blood and left thousands of others maimed for life could be dismissed as a mere 'political grudge!'
 
In a panel discussion broadcast on the Airtalk program of public radio station KPCC recently, and recorded on the MPAC website, Salam al—Marayati manages to discuss the Arab—Israel conflict for at least ten minutes, while making only the briefest in—passing reference—less than a sentence—to Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis. Instead, he claims that the Israeli 'occupation' of Palestinian land is the 'cause' of violence in the Middle East. At one point, al Marayati 'jokes' that if the Palestinians had jet planes, they wouldn't 'need' terrorism. This remark of course suggests that the Palestinians have a legitimate need to resort to terrorism. How does this square with al—Maryati's, and MPACS, professed opposition to terrorism?
 
As for the attacks on Americans in Saudi Arabia, which of course al—Marayati deplores, they are caused by American policy in the Middle East, especially support for Israel. And the attacks on Americans will only grow worse unless American policy is changed. In this way the terrorists who murder both Americans and Israelis are by implication exonerated from blame, while a not—too—subtle implicit threat is made against America.
 
MPAC's much—touted cooperation with U.S. law enforcement in the war against terrorism also comes into question when we read the fine print. One article after another on MPACS website devotes thousands of words to critiquing virtually everything that U.S. law enforcement has attempted to do to prevent terrorism and bring terrorists to justice.

A December 11 opinion piece by Mr. al—Marayati in the Los Angeles Times takes the same tack. Checking on foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas in the United States? A violation of the civil rights of innocent people. Inspecting baggage and asking questions of passengers at airports before they board a flight? Not only a violation of civil rights, but a humiliation of innocent people in front of their own children. Investigating groups and individuals who have expressed support for violence? An unfair harassment of people for their 'ideology' rather than their actions—as if their words cannot possibly provide a clue as to how people behave, or might behave in the future. Subjecting a disproportionate number of Muslims to security checks and investigation for possible terrorist links? Racism pure and simple, racial profiling, a violation of Muslims' constitutional rights. As if there were as many Christians, Jews, and Buddhists who support terrorist groups at war with the United States as there are Muslims who support such groups. Closing down so—called 'charities' that funnel money to terrorist groups? This places an unfair burden on Muslim charities and puts a damper on Muslim charitable giving. Besides, the accusations against these charities, such as the Holy Land Foundation, have not been proved (not true: several groups have already been proved to fund terrorists in open court, and compensation awarded to their victims).
 
Are there any measures against terror by law enforcement agencies that Mr. Al—Arayati and his associate's support? I have only been able to locate two in MPAC's publications: 1) sponsoring 'community forums' at which terrorism will be discussed and appeals for community cooperation will be made; and 2) changing America's foreign policy to make it more acceptable to the Muslim world. The first measure is mainly a public relations exercise, which can easily be hijacked as a forum for complaints that Muslims are being unfairly targeted by law enforcement. The second involves giving in to the terrorists' demands in the hope that this will appease them—a strategy for combating terrorism and other forms of violence that has never worked.
 
When reading Mr. Marayati's and his MPAC associates' slippery and misleading language, I can't help but think of the 'serpent [who] was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that God made' in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis, as well as Conan Doyle's literary creation, Professor Moriarty. Like the Biblical serpent, they seem reasonable and profess friendship while giving disastrous advice. And like his near—namesake Professor Moriarty, Mr. al— Marayati is an educated and articulate man whose intellectual qualities may serve as a cover for other, less attractive ones. 

Most worrisome is the way that MPAC has managed to insinuate itself into the confidence of several law enforcement agencies: for example, the lavish praise bestowed on MPAC by the LAPD's Bureau of Counter—Terrorism chief, John Miller, at the recent joint FBI—LAPD—MPAC press conference. They should review MPAC's public record, freely available on its website.

Salam al—Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), represents himself and his organization as stalwart opponents of terrorism who are actively working with the FBI and California law enforcement agencies to combat it. At a joint press conference with representatives of the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department on October 14 of this year, Marayati waxed expansive and almost poetic in his glowing account of his organization's cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the war against terrorism. MPAC has announced a 'National Anti—Terrorism Campaign,' and is holding its 4th annual conference (see its poster here) on December 18th around the theme 'Countering Religious and Political Extremism.' Note the way the poster implicitly equates Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, Pat Robertson and Donald Rumsfeld with Osama bin Laden.

For years now, al—Marayati and MPAC have represented themselves as opponents of terrorism, patriotic Americans, and friends of American law enforcement. Al—Marayati's unaccented American speech pattern—he has lived in the United States since he was five years old, although born in Iraq—further reinforces his carefully cultivated image as an all—American patriot.
 
But if we read the fine print at MPAC's website, we discover that its actual attitudes toward terrorism are quite different from Marayati's and MPAC's public aura. MPAC's writers wax eloquent enough when condemning 'terrorism' in general, but criticism of specific terrorist organizations in the Islamic world, and specific terrorist attacks on civilians, are few, brief, vague, and perfunctory.

When we do a web search of the MPAC site for discussions of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, for example, we find only two statements about the group. They are angry denunciations of Israel's 'attempted assassination' of Hamas's second in command, Abdel—Azziz al—Rantissi, and its subsequent 'assassination' of Hamas's founder and commander, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. While going on for over three hundred words denouncing an unsuccessful attack on one terrorist commander and a successful attack on another, plus devoting an additional 110 words to denouncing the U.S. government for allegedly being biased in favor of Israel, the unnamed MPAC editorialist takes less than 40 words to disassociate his organization from the murder of hundreds of innocents by operatives under Yassin's and Rantissi's command. The author characterizes Israel's strikes against terrorist chieftains in extremely harsh and angry language:

"an act of violence so severe and provocative that it represents a paradigm shifting this conflict that is most dangerous and ominous....Israel has now committed an act of state terrorism whose purpose and result can only be to profoundly escalate the Israeli—Palestinian conflict, a move so intensely dangerous that it should place Israel outside the community of civilized nations.... Sharon's latest crime.'

MPAC'S denunciation of the U.S. administration for failing to somehow protect Yassin is almost as furious:

'President Bush's call that both parties exercise restraint is hollow and simply insufficient and irresponsible——Sharon's latest escalation foregrounds how irresponsible the Bush administration's policy toward the Arab—Israeli conflict has been. Had our government been truly even—handed...this dangerous escalation may not have happened. The bankruptcy and wrong—headedness of our foreign policy toward the Middle East must finally be addressed and corrected by this administration.'

By way of contrast, MPAC's criticism of Hamas's murders of hundreds of defenseless noncombatants is brief and perfunctory. In connection with the strike against Rantissi, the MPAC author writes that 'this assassination triggered a reaction by extremists on the other side: a terrible attack carried out by Hamas....predictably, Hamas avenged the assassination of one of their leaders, derailing the peace process even further.' That's all.

In MPAC's subsequent press release about the 'assassination' of Ahmed Yassin, all it can muster by way of criticism of Hamas is a single sentence: 'MPAC has a long record of condemning terrorism, including terrorism perpetrated by Hamas.' (I have been unable to find any trace of this 'long standing record' on MPAC's website).

These perfunctory disclaimers of Hamas's bloodstained record contain no reference to the defenseless, unarmed people wantonly slaughtered by Hamas, the body parts strewn and the flesh and blood spattered on public streets, the hundreds of people hideously maimed and disfigured for life, the twisted metal remains of what had been peaceful civilian buses. The MPAC writer even goes so far as to characterize Hamas's murderous attacks as retaliation for Israeli strikes against the terrorist leaders—ignoring the hundreds of Hamas terrorist acts, the murders of so many women, children, elderly people, even babies, that were committed for eleven years before Rantissi and Yassin were finally struck down. The murder of innocents seems to trouble MPAC far less than the killing of the terrorist masterminds that had decreed their deaths.  By claiming that it is Israel's acts of self—defense against terrorists that are the cause of Palestinian terrorism, MPAC appears to in effect justify and excuse it.
 
MPAC's reaction to the death of Yassir Arafat is another case in point. MPAC's published eulogy for Arafat describes him as 'the revolutionary and statesman who championed the cause of the Palestinian people for over four decades.' There is not a mention of the thousands of people killed in terror attacks organized by Arafat and his minions over four decades, including eleven athletes at an international Olympic competition intended to celebrate peace and cooperation between nations, and two innocent American diplomats seized at a diplomatic mission, in violation of every international law and custom. Nor does MPAC have anything to say of Arafat's billions that he looted from Palestinian institutions for himself and his cronies.

The eulogy does mention that an Israeli cabinet member characterized Arafat as a terrorist shortly before he died. But MPAC's only reaction to this characterization is to lecture Israel for 'Allowing political grudges to supercede a dying man's wish [to be buried in Jerusalem].' As if the anger that Israelis feel towards a man who murdered thousands of their children, parents, brothers and sisters in cold blood and left thousands of others maimed for life could be dismissed as a mere 'political grudge!'
 
In a panel discussion broadcast on the Airtalk program of public radio station KPCC recently, and recorded on the MPAC website, Salam al—Marayati manages to discuss the Arab—Israel conflict for at least ten minutes, while making only the briefest in—passing reference—less than a sentence—to Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis. Instead, he claims that the Israeli 'occupation' of Palestinian land is the 'cause' of violence in the Middle East. At one point, al Marayati 'jokes' that if the Palestinians had jet planes, they wouldn't 'need' terrorism. This remark of course suggests that the Palestinians have a legitimate need to resort to terrorism. How does this square with al—Maryati's, and MPACS, professed opposition to terrorism?
 
As for the attacks on Americans in Saudi Arabia, which of course al—Marayati deplores, they are caused by American policy in the Middle East, especially support for Israel. And the attacks on Americans will only grow worse unless American policy is changed. In this way the terrorists who murder both Americans and Israelis are by implication exonerated from blame, while a not—too—subtle implicit threat is made against America.
 
MPAC's much—touted cooperation with U.S. law enforcement in the war against terrorism also comes into question when we read the fine print. One article after another on MPACS website devotes thousands of words to critiquing virtually everything that U.S. law enforcement has attempted to do to prevent terrorism and bring terrorists to justice.

A December 11 opinion piece by Mr. al—Marayati in the Los Angeles Times takes the same tack. Checking on foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas in the United States? A violation of the civil rights of innocent people. Inspecting baggage and asking questions of passengers at airports before they board a flight? Not only a violation of civil rights, but a humiliation of innocent people in front of their own children. Investigating groups and individuals who have expressed support for violence? An unfair harassment of people for their 'ideology' rather than their actions—as if their words cannot possibly provide a clue as to how people behave, or might behave in the future. Subjecting a disproportionate number of Muslims to security checks and investigation for possible terrorist links? Racism pure and simple, racial profiling, a violation of Muslims' constitutional rights. As if there were as many Christians, Jews, and Buddhists who support terrorist groups at war with the United States as there are Muslims who support such groups. Closing down so—called 'charities' that funnel money to terrorist groups? This places an unfair burden on Muslim charities and puts a damper on Muslim charitable giving. Besides, the accusations against these charities, such as the Holy Land Foundation, have not been proved (not true: several groups have already been proved to fund terrorists in open court, and compensation awarded to their victims).
 
Are there any measures against terror by law enforcement agencies that Mr. Al—Arayati and his associate's support? I have only been able to locate two in MPAC's publications: 1) sponsoring 'community forums' at which terrorism will be discussed and appeals for community cooperation will be made; and 2) changing America's foreign policy to make it more acceptable to the Muslim world. The first measure is mainly a public relations exercise, which can easily be hijacked as a forum for complaints that Muslims are being unfairly targeted by law enforcement. The second involves giving in to the terrorists' demands in the hope that this will appease them—a strategy for combating terrorism and other forms of violence that has never worked.
 
When reading Mr. Marayati's and his MPAC associates' slippery and misleading language, I can't help but think of the 'serpent [who] was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that God made' in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis, as well as Conan Doyle's literary creation, Professor Moriarty. Like the Biblical serpent, they seem reasonable and profess friendship while giving disastrous advice. And like his near—namesake Professor Moriarty, Mr. al— Marayati is an educated and articulate man whose intellectual qualities may serve as a cover for other, less attractive ones. 

Most worrisome is the way that MPAC has managed to insinuate itself into the confidence of several law enforcement agencies: for example, the lavish praise bestowed on MPAC by the LAPD's Bureau of Counter—Terrorism chief, John Miller, at the recent joint FBI—LAPD—MPAC press conference. They should review MPAC's public record, freely available on its website.