Group labeled 9/11 attacks on U.S. a legitimate operation
TEL AVIV – An Arab politician recently appointed to a key position by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano helped raise funds for an Islamic group that has labeled a deadly anti-U.S. terrorist attack a legitimate operation, referred to terrorists as "freedom fighters" and equated Muslim jihad with the sentiments of American statesman Patrick Henry, WND has learned.
In April, Napolitano appointed Arif Alikhan, then Los Angeles deputy mayor of homeland security and public safety, to serve as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security.
Napolitano praised Alikhan and another appointee, David Heyman, for their "broad and impressive array of experience in national security, emergency preparedness and counter-terrorism."
The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, likewise praised the appointment of Alikhan.
"Congratulations to Mr. Alikhan on this well-deserved appointment," said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. "Mr. Alikhan's new position reflects his and the community's dedication to helping preserve the security of our country. The American Muslim community can be proud of him."
Discover the Networks notes Marayati equated jihad with the sentiments of prominent American Revolution figure Patrick Henry, whose "Give me liberty or give me death" declaration was, according to Marayati, "a way of looking at the term jihad from an American perspective."
MPAC also has taken an anti-Israel view, particularly after the start of the Palestinian intifada in September 2000. The intifada, or terrorist war, was initiated by late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat after he turned down an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
MPAC co-sponsored pro-Palestinian rallies in the fall of 2000, documents Discover the Networks, where speakers reportedly chanted, "Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the Army of Muhammad is coming for you!" The rally reportedly featured literature and placards calling for the annihilation of the Jews and Israel.
MPAC has called Israelis "the worst terrorists in the world," lamenting the Jewish state is not found on the official State Department list of terrorist groups.
A few hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, MPAC co-founder Marayati told a Los Angeles talk radio audience: "If we're going to look at suspects, we should look at 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."
Janelle Perez, a spokeswoman for Alikhan at Homeland Security, did not return a WND request for comment before publication.
In a telephone interview in April with India-West.com, Alikhan said he spoke to Napolitano briefly before the appointment was made.
"She said she was very happy I was coming on board," he said, adding that he was "very impressed" by Napolitano and her accomplishments.
Alikhan was born in Canada and raised in California. His parents are Indian and Pakistani. Before serving as L.A.'s deputy mayor of homeland security and public safety, Alikhan worked for the U.S. Department of Justice as the overseer of a computer-hacking program. He also was the vice chairman and executive director of the Justice Department's Intellectual Property Task Force.
This is not Napolitano's first appointment with ties to terrorism supporters. WND first reported Napolitano swore in to her official advisory council the head of an Arab American organization whose officials have labeled deadly anti-U.S. jihadists as "heroes" and opposed referring to Hamas as a terrorist organization.