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A Muslim sheik who condemns Yasser Arafat as a terrorist joined a Jewish rabbi in a protest outside the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s U.N. mission in New York.

During dozens of demonstrations and memorials in recent months, Rabbi Avi Weiss, president of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, had been calling, unsuccessfully, for a Muslim leader to join him in protesting Palestinian terrorist attacks.

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Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi

One has answered the call, though he was in the U.S. only for a visit.

Sheik Abdul Hadi Palazzi, secretary general of the Italian Muslim Association, says it is time for the “world and civilized nations not to consider the Palestinian Authority as representative of a people, of having a place among the nations, but rather as a gang promoting terror, educating children in terror from elementary school age.”

Responding last week to the attack in Haifa that killed 15 Israelis, Palazzi said at the New York protest, “We must ask if the perpetrators were educated to become suicide bombers with funds originating with American or European taxpayers.”

In an interview with WorldNetDaily before returning to Rome yesterday, Palazzi urged the United States to become consistent in its fight against terrorism. He fears a repeat of history following the likely, upcoming defeat of Saddam Hussein.

After the Gulf War in 1991, he noted, the U.S. pressed Israel to accept the Oslo peace process, which resulted in the present intifada, or uprising. Palazzi fears that after Saddam’s demise, the U.S. will make a similar miscalculation and renew a path toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“Why would you destroy a totalitarian regime in one part of the world and create it in another?” Palazzi asked.

The U.S. essentially will have won a victory in the war against terrorism in Iraq, while rewarding terrorism in the Holy Land, he contends.

“You defeat Saddam Hussein and then you reward the Palestinian Authority, which was the best ally of Saddam Hussein, funded by him from the very beginning,” Palazzi said.

“Who was the best friend of Saddam Hussein?” he asked. “Yasser Arafat. Who gives money to families of suicide bombers? Saddam Hussein, who claims his people are dying of starvation because of the embargo.”

Arafat is the only terrorist leader who has “seen all his crimes forgotten, whitewashed by the international community,” he said, noting, for example, Arafat’s alleged responsibility for the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, which did not prevent the Palestinian leader from later visiting the White House as an honored guest.

“This only increases terror, showing that terror can win,” Palazzi said.

“It’s time for this reality to change,” he asserted. “There is no good terror or bad terror. It’s necessary to fight terror in all its forms. If you promote a Palestinian state with American and European funds for the PLO, you increase the opportunity for terror.”

Palazzi points out that Western aid to the Palestinian Authority often does not reach its intended recipients, but instead is used to promote terror.

“Arafat has said in many speeches that suicide bombers are heroes,” he noted. “Palestinian schools, some built with European Union funds, are named for suicide bombers.”

Palazzi, 42, was born in Italy to a Muslim mother whose grandfather immigrated from Syria and an Italian father who converted to Islam.

Wahhabi ‘colonization’

The sheik, who identifies with the mystic Sufis of the majority Sunni stream of Islam, insists that the Wahhabi interpretation exported by Saudi Arabia is not only the source of Middle East terror, but also the most visible and powerful expression of Islam in the United States.

“Especially in the U.S., the only Muslim leaders who are recognized as official representatives of the Muslims – those who are invited to the White House – are the extremists,” he said.

The recently indicted University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian is an example, he said, of the kind of people treated as “moderates” in the U.S. Al-Arian was president of the nonprofit Islamic Committee of Palestine, considered the U.S. arm of the terrorist Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.

The Wahhabist Saudi government began its ongoing “colonization” of the West in earnest after World War II, Palazzi said, sending students abroad to study.

Their mission, he said, was to create what was initially called the Muslim Student Federation, then “after it became rooted in the country, to start creating the local mosques, local organizations and groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations,” or CAIR.

Though it claims to represent moderate Muslims, Palazzi calls the Washington, D.C.-based lobby group the “U.S. section of Hamas.”

CAIR president “Nihad Awad is a leader of Hamas in the same way that Sami al-Arian was a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” he insisted.

“Why is the same standard not applied?” he asked.

Noting that CAIR has a year-long ad campaign in the New York Times, Palazzi wonders why no one seems interested in investigating the source of the funds and whether they are “supporting suicide bombers in Israel.”

CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association of Palestine, a group identified by a U.S. intelligence official as a front for Hamas. Awad was the group’s public-relations adviser, and CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper also was an employee. Awad praised Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini and at a university forum in 1994 declared, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”

Hamas itself has its roots in the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which al-Qaida was born, noted Palazzi.

The difference between al-Qaida and Hamas is not over belief in the legitimacy of terrorism, but whether terror is to be used as the primary strategic tool or as only one of the possible tools, he said.

“The leaders of Hamas and Brotherhood accept and promote suicide bombing and terror, but they believe it is not going to work in every circumstance,” Palazzi explained. “In some cases, it is useful to have a kind of political activity. In some cases it is useful to resort to diplomacy.”

Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood support terror in Kashmir, Israel and Chechnya, for example, he pointed out, but say that in the West, terror is not the best strategy.

They say, according to Palazzi, “We would rather infiltrate the West by our network and take advantage of the role of religious freedom in democratic legal systems and create our legal basis in those countries.”

The Wahhabi aim, he says, is nothing short of bringing the whole world under its domination.

CAIR spokesman Hooper revealed in a 1994 interview, “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future. But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”

CAIR chairman Omar M. Ahmad told a group of Muslims in California in 1998, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Quran … should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”

Ready to perform jihad

On Monday, the university from which Palazzi graduated – al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt – issued a statement declaring that a war against Iraq would be a “new crusade,” compelling every Muslim to perform “jihad.”

Palazzi rejects that thinking, noting that in recent years, many of al-Azhar’s moderate professors have been expelled in favor of “extreme fanatics.”

The Islamic Research Center at the university, the Sunni stream of Islam’s leading institution, said that according to “Islamic law, if the enemy descends on the land of Muslims, jihad becomes an Islamic obligation on every male and female Muslim because our Arab and Islamic community will be facing a new crusade battle targeting our land, honor, faith and nation.”

The center urged Arabs and Muslims worldwide to “be ready to defend themselves, their doctrine and to be united … [and] not to be weakened in the face of this aggression because God is capable of defending his religion.”

Palazzi believes that, in actuality, the Muslims of Iraq see a potential U.S. military action as “an opportunity for its liberation.”

“We have already seen what’s happened in the no-fly zone,” he said. “We have in the north of Iraq, already, a liberated Kurdish area where Muslims are living in freedom.”

A crusade means “a world where you want to enforce a religion on people, but this never happened in the liberation of that part of Iraq,” he said. “On the contrary, we see that those people are now free.”

The same situation can also be extended to the rest of Iraq, he asserted.

Al-Azhar said the main targets of a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq were the “Arab and Islamic communities [and] … our religious faith,” adding the “rest of the Arab world” would be targeted next.

“Anti-Islamic and -Arab forces have announced that after controlling Iraq it will divide and reorganize the situation in the Arab region in a way that would achieve American and Israeli interests and halt the resistance of the Palestinian people,” the statement said.

Related stories:

Muslim cleric calls for death of Arafat

Italian Muslim cleric defends Israel

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