TEL AVIV – CNN’s senior Middle East affairs editor yesterday professed her “respect” for an anti-American Islamic extremist who was an ideological guide to the Hezbollah terror group and who was accused of masterminding a 1983 attack on U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … one of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot,” wrote CNN senior editor for Middle East affairs Octavia Nasr on her personal Twitter page.
Fadlallah, Lebanon’s top Shiite Muslim cleric who was once regarded as the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, has a long history of supporting terrorism against the U.S. and Israel. He was accused, for example, of masterminding the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks bombing. Although he had strenuously denied any connection to the attack, he continued to publicly support anti-American and anti-Israeli attacks.
He also supported the seizure and hostage-taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and has been known to praise Palestinian suicide bombings.
He has said of America, “In its policy that aspires to impose hegemony on the world is an evil with no good in it.”
News media reports claim that in recent years Fadlallah drifted away from radical Islamist politics and has espoused policies of moderation.
However, media watchdog HonestReporting.com points out that he praised the Palestinian shooting massacre of eight Israeli students at a Jerusalem yeshiva on March 6, 2008, and has praised Iran’s efforts to build long-range missiles as the “pride of the Islamic world” in 2008.
Just last week, Reuters reported that when asked what he needed by a nurse at the Lebanese hospital in which he was being treated, Fadlallah replied: “For the Zionist entity to cease to exist.”
Fadlallah also has engaged in Holocaust denial.
In a March 2008 interview with Al-Manar TV Fadlallah stated, “Zionism has inflated the number of victims in this holocaust beyond imagination. They say there were six million Jews – not six million, not three million, or anything like that. … But the world accepted this [figure], and it does not allow anyone to discuss this.”
Fadlallah survived several assassination attempts, including a 1985 car bombing near his south Beirut home that killed 80 people. During Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon, Fadlallah’s residence was bombed and reduced to rubble by Israeli warplanes. Fadlallah was not at home.
Nasr, meanwhile, has a history of controversial remarks on terrorism, WND has learned.
In 2006, while serving as CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs, Nasr stated in an online CNN interview that “terrorism for one person is a freedom fight for another.”
“So, you know, if you think about it, ‘terrorism’ is a subjective term depending on which side you are on,” Nasr continued.
Nasr previously worked for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, a brainchild of Lebanon’s former President Bashir Gemayel. At the time of the corporation’s founding in 1985, the pro-Western Gemayel was leader of the Lebanese Army.