Homeland Security Chief Appears At Anti-Hate Summit With Spokesman For Organization That Defended Terrorist Groups

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FILE PHOTO: U.S.-Mexico High Level Security Dialogue in Mexico City

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke at an Oct. 18-20 anti-hate event that also featured a man whose organization has in the past defended terrorist acts.

The group, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), has previously made statements minimizing terrorist attacks and advocating for prominent terrorist organizations to no longer be considered terrorist groups.

Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC’s president and co-founder, spoke at the event that marked three years since the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue massacre. Al-Marayati served on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee’s (HSAC) Foreign Fighter Task Force, as well as the HSAC Subcommittee on Faith Based Security and Communications during the Obama administration.

During a panel at the Pittsburgh anti-hate event, Al-Marayati mentioned a 2015 White House event that received pushback for inviting him to an event on countering extremism. Al-Marayati said he was accused at the time of being a “terrorist.”

“That night, Fox News decided to run a story on me that the President invited a terrorist to the White House, and Muslims have to deal with that everyday, and I think understanding that psychology, or the trauma in dealing with that issue is very important if we want to develop a healthy relationship with law enforcement, which obviously is a must if we want to deal with this threat,” Al-Marayati said Wednesday.

“You cannot do this alone, you have to do this with law enforcement. So, I think that that relationship building is important and thank God that we have partners … like the people on this panel, like all of you because we could not do it without you,” Al-Marayati said.

MPAC has issued multiple statements in the past that appeared to make excuses for terrorist attacks. MPAC said that a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001 was “the expected bitter result of the reckless policy of Israeli assassination that did not spare children and political figures.”

In 2003, MPAC published a policy paper downplaying the threat of Palestinian terrorist 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,” the organization said.

MPAC was a DHS grant recipient under Obama, but was subsequently removed from the list of recipients under the Trump administration. The move came after the scope of the grant program changed with the new administration, according to MPAC.

MPAC didn’t respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

In 2001, Al-Marayati labeled Israel a “suspect” in the Sept. 11 attacks. He later said that the statement “gave regrettable and unintended offense to Jewish Americans,” according to The New York Times. In 2012, Al-Marayati accused America of doing “dirty work” for Israel.

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Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a Muslim reform organization, told the DCNF that Marayati and his organization are often only quick to condemn terrorism in politically expedient situations.

“MPAC’s inclusion and Marayati’s inclusion in this event speaks to how the Biden administration has continued without skipping a beat the significant influence that leading Islamist organizations and Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups continue to have with the Democratic party apparatus and with now Obama 2.0 much like Marayati had significant influence in the Obama White House from 2008 to 2016,” Jasser said.

“And when it comes to this event, Islamists like Marayati are quick to condemn terrorism when it suits their political purposes, but when it comes to acknowledging the need to reform the ideas that fuel radical Islamist terrorism of Hamas or Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood, they seem to remain silent and deny many of many of us Muslims involved in the Muslim reform movement,” he concluded.

Mayorkas spoke virtually Tuesday in a keynote address where he recognized a “rise in hate in our country.”

The anti-hate event isn’t the first time Al-Marayati and his organization have crossed paths with Mayorkas. Al-Marayati posted a picture on Facebook in June with Mayorkas, saying the two had a meeting.

“MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati just met with Homeland Security Sec. Mayorkas, and he spoke to him about the racially motivated attacks on the Afzaal-Salman family in Canada,” the caption read. “He urged him to have the Biden Administration comment on this attack and address it as a threat to the security of all Americans.”

In 2014, MPAC’s Washington, D.C., office director Haris Tareen appeared on a panel with Mayorkas when he was the DHS deputy secretary.

DHS didn’t respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also spoke at the Wednesday event. Then-ADL regional director David A. Lehrer said in 2001 the organization wouldn’t participate in any conversations with Al-Marayati after Al-Marayati’s controversial statements, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The ADL didn’t respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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