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Obama adviser: Let's engage terrorists

Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

Hezbollah flag

The self-proclaimed principal adviser to President Obama on counter-terrorism is proposing engagement with Hezbollah, which the U.S. officially regards as a terrorist organization, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

John O. Brennan, a former Central Intelligence Agency station chief in the Middle East and State Department official, said that such engagement, in effect, will be part of strengthening U.S. national security and “safeguarding the American people from violent extremism and terrorist attacks.”

While at State, Brennan also was a political officer in Saudi Arabia.

In a virtually unpublicized address Aug. 6 to the Washington, D.C., think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brennan relegated most of his prepared remarks to the Obama administration’s efforts to confront terrorism, especially that of al-Qaida.

“Some like to claim that the president’s policies somehow represent a wholesale dismantling of counter-terrorism policies and practices adopted by his predecessor,” Brennan said. “Others claim that the president’s policies constitute a wholesale retention of his predecessor’s policies. … Both are wrong … (the president’s) views are nuanced. …He understands the complexities and many dimensions of the challenges presented by violent extremism.”

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During the Q&A time, however, Brennan pointed out that Hezbollah had developed from “purely a terrorist organization” back in the early 1980s and “has evolved significantly over time. And now, it has members of parliament, in the cabinet; there are lawyers, doctors, others who are part of the Hezbollah organization.”

“Hopefully, those elements within the Shia community in Lebanon and within Hezbollah at large – they’re going to continue to look at that extremist terrorist core as being something that is anathema to what, in fact, they’re trying to accomplish in terms of their aspirations about being part of the political process in Lebanon,” Brennan said.

“And so, quite frankly, I’m pleased to see that a lot of Hezbollah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism and violence and are trying to participate in the political process in a very legitimate fashion,” he added.

In addition to being comprised of many professionals, Hezbollah also is the single largest minority bloc in the Lebanese parliament, holding some 57 of 128 seats. In addition, it is allied with the Amal, headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and the Christian leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, former Gen. Michael Aoun.

Brennan pointed out the U.S. already has relayed its willingness to engage with Hezbollah and other terrorist or insurgent groups which seek to change. He pointed out
that in Lebanon and among Palestinians the Obama administration has demonstrated it is prepared to engage organizations and groups and have a dialogue with them if they dedicate themselves to peaceful solutions to existing problems.

“I think those elements within Lebanon, be they Hezbollah or others, know that the United States has tried to be a very honest broker there, providing support to Lebanese institutions,” Brennan said.

Brennan’s suggestion of engagement with Hezbollah mirrors action taken by the British government last March to engage Hezbollah’s political wing while seeking to get the Shia organization to disarm.

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