CNN’s senior Middle East affairs editor yesterday professed her “respect” for an anti-American Islamic extremist who was an ideological guide to the Hizbullah 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 Hizbullah, has a long history of supporting terrorism against the U.S. and Israel. He said of America, “In its policy that aspires to impose hegemony on the world is an evil with no good in it.”
He 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 also been accused of masterminding the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks bombing although he strenuously denied any connection to the attack.
News media reports claim that in recent years Fadlallah drifted away from radical Islamist politics and espoused policies of moderation.
However, media watchdog HonestReporting.com points out that he praised the Palestinian shooting massacreof eight Israeli students at a Jerusalem yeshiva on March 6, 2008, and 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 by a nurse at a Lebanese hospital what he needed in which he was being treated, Fadlallah replied: “For the Zionist entity to cease to exist.”
Open Hamas-U.S. Dialogue In The Works?
Hamas has held meetings with U.S. officials to discuss ways in which the Obama administration can engage in open dialogue with the Islamist organization, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza told this column.
The Hamas leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said recent meetings with U.S. officials took place in Europe and that more meetings are scheduled in the coming days and weeks.
He claimed the U.S. asked his group to alter its political platform to accept a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
Currently, Hamas’s official charter demands a Palestinian state in all of Israel. The charter also calls for the murder of Jews.
The Hamas figure also claimed the U.S. is willing to make public its relations with Hamas if his group moderates its vision. He said Hamas was also asked to negotiate the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as part of a larger rapprochement with Israel.
The leader told this column his group would not change its long-term position rejecting Israel’s existence even if that would translate into an invitation for Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal to visit Washington. He also said his group is willing to accept a 10-year renewable cease-fire with Israel if the Jewish state withdrew to its pre-1967 borders.
The Hamas leader would not name which U.S. officials his group allegedly met with in recent weeks. The meetings, he said, were led by Hamas officials in Syria and abroad and were coordinated by deputies of Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria.
Another Obama Official With Ties To Ayers
The director of the White House Fellows program, Cindy S. Moelis, previously served as director of a group that granted Weather Underground terrorist organization founder William Ayers its “public trust” award, this column has learned.
Moelis’s group, the Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, was also one of the biggest recipients of a grant from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which was founded by Ayers and chaired by Barack Obama.
Moelis’s White House program appointed as one of its fellows Vartan Gregorian, a charity boss who served as a point man in granting $49.2 million in startup capital to Ayers’s and Obama’s Challenge. Gregorian was central in Ayers’s recruitment of Obama to serve as the first chairman of the Challenge project – a job in which Obama worked closely on a regular basis with Ayers.
Obama later touted his job at the project as qualifying him to run for public office.
It has emerged that in November 2001, Moelis became the “new director of education initiatives” for Business and Professional People for the Public Interest. The organization describes itself as a “vigorous advocate of equitable public schools [that] has supported the movement for small and personalized learning communities since 1992.”
The group was one of the biggest recipients of grants from the Challenge, run by Obama and Ayers. Also, the group operated the Coalition of Schools for Better Education, a group which, from 1998 through 2001, received $375,000 in grants from the Challenge.
In 1996, the group gave Ayers its Champion of the Public Interest award – an honor touted on Ayers’s personal website.
Moelis and her husband, Robert S. Rivkin, became financial bundlers and donors for Obama’s 2008 campaign as well as for the president’s previous runs for public office. They personally contributed to every one of Obama’s congressional campaigns since 1999, according to public records.
In 2008, Moelis and Rivkin were members of Obama’s presidential finance committee as well as bundlers committed to raising more than $200,001 for Obama.
In May 2009, Rivkin was sworn in as the 21st general counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Moelis, meanwhile, was appointed by Obama last April to head the president’s fellowship commission.
A White House statementannouncing Moelis’s appointment fails to mention her work at the Challenge-funded Business and Professional People for the Public Interest.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for Internet giant WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m.