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A U.S. Islamic lobby group with ties to Hamas strongly condemned Israel’s killing of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin without mentioning the cleric’s affiliation or his responsibility for countless terrorist attacks against Israel, which were part of his stated objective to destroy the Jewish nation.
In its statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations referred to Yassin only as a “wheelchair-bound Palestinian Muslim religious leader” and a “67-year-old quadriplegic” who was the “most prominent Palestinian Islamic figure.”
Yassin, killed by a helicopter gunship Monday, was regarded by Israeli authorities as their Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported 10 babies born after the assassination were given the sheik’s name by their families, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The Palestinian Authority has declared three days of mourning for Yassin.
“Israel’s extra-judicial killing of an Islamic religious leader can only serve to perpetuate the cycle of violence throughout the region,” CAIR said. “The international community must now take concrete steps to help protect the Palestinian people against such wanton Israeli violence.”
CAIR called on the U.S. to cut the flow of funds to Israel and repudiate Israel’s policies by canceling Ariel Sharon’s upcoming visit to Washington.
“Bland administration statements urging ‘restraint by all parties’ will only be viewed internationally as tacit approval of Israel’s actions and will undermine our moral and legal basis for the war on terrorism,” CAIR said.
CAIR claims to be a civil-rights group that represents mainstream Muslims in the U.S., but the group is a spin-off of the Islamic Association For Palestine, labeled a “front group” for Hamas by two former heads of the FBI’s counterterrorism section.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad was the Islamic Association For Palestine’s public-relations adviser.
At a university forum in 1994, Awad declared, “I am in support of the Hamas movement.”
In its 1988 covenant, Hamas declared war on the Jews, declaring in the preamble: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”
Under Yassin, Hamas killed 377 Israelis in at least 425 terrorist attacks during the past three and a half years of the Palestinian Authority’s current Intifada, or uprising.
Among the suicide operations carried out by Hamas were the March 27, 2002, attack in Netanya that killed 29 people celebrating Passover; the 22, mostly teens, killed at a Tel Aviv discotheque June 1, 2001; and the 15 killed at a Sbarro’s pizza restaurant in Jerusalem, Aug. 9, 2001.
Most recently, two suicide bombers infiltrated the Israeli port of Ashdod March 14 and killed 10 people in an attack designed to kill hundreds. Israeli officials believe if the terrorists had been able to get closer to the tons of bromide, fuel and ammonia stored at the port, they could have released a deadly “dirty bomb” cloud.
In Israel, two opinion polls found the majority of Israelis support the assassination of Yassin, the Jerusalem Post reported.
A poll by the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot said 60 percent favored the action while 32 percent said it was wrong.
The newspaper Maariv’s poll showed 61 percent in favor and 21 percent opposed.