What would you do with a guy who initially labeled Israel as a suspect behind the 9/11 attacks and who continues to hedge on American efforts to deny Iran an atomic bomb, and whose organization challenges counter-terror prosecutions?
If you're the State Department, you send him to a human rights forum in Poland, the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo reports.
Salam Al-Marayati is wrapping up a 10-day trip to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's annual gathering on human rights. Al-Marayati is a founder and president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a group which cast the 1983 Hizballah bombing of a U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut for a peacekeeping mission as "exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washington's enemies," and which has questioned America's designation of Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups.
A spokesman told Kredo that al-Marayati "has been a valued and highly credible interlocutor on issues affecting Muslim communities" and was sent to the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings "as a reflection of the wide diversity of backgrounds of the American people."
But Josh Block, a former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and head of The Israel Project, blasted the move as "inexplicable" given al-Marayati's record defending Hizballah and Hamas.
But the State Department previously has tapped al-Marayati as a sponsored spokesman. In 2010, he spoke about free speech and religious freedom on a government-financed trip to Europe.
That hasn't seemed to moderate al-Marayati's tone or his view that Israel is the impetus behind American policies he doesn't like. America isn't trying to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program out of self-interest, he said earlier this year. It is due to Israeli influence in Washington.
"The other point here, which is very important historically, the United States has done a lot of dirty work that has served the interests of Israel," al-Marayati said. "It destroyed Iraq. It supported the destruction and crippling of Egypt. It has crippled the Gulf. And now, it is looking to Iran as the next target for crippling and destroying. I think this is madness. Who is driving our foreign policy? President Obama or Prime Minister Netanyahu?"
Bad judgment at the State Department is not isolated to al-Marayati. It also has sent officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) abroad, even though they used the opportunity to decry the state of Muslim life in America.
It's an odd public relations strategy to say the least.