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NEW YORK – While concern has mounted that former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense should be blocked because of past expressed hostility for Israel, little attention has been given to CIA-nominee John Brennan’s view of Islam.
In a speech delivered Aug. 9, 2009, to the Center for Strategic and International Studies that is archived on the White House website, Brennan said using “a legitimate term, ‘jihad’ – meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal” – to describe terrorists “risks reinforcing the idea that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself.”
As WND reported, Brennan advised in the speech that U.S. foreign policy should encourage greater assimilation of the Hezbollah terrorist organization into the Lebanese government.
In a July 2008 article in The Annals, a publication of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Brennan argued it “would not be foolhardy, however, for the United States to tolerate, and even to encourage, greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s political system, a process that is subject to Iranian influence.”
Brennan argued Hezbollah “is already represented in the Lebanese parliament, and its members have previously served in the Lebanese cabinet, reflections of Hezbollah’s interest in shaping Lebanon’s political future from within government institutions.”
“This involvement is a far cry from Hezbollah’s genesis as solely a terrorist organization dedicated to murder, kidnapping and violence,” he said.
At the August 2009 press conference for the CSIS, Brennan declared: “Hezbollah started out as purely a terrorist organization back in the early ‘80s 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.”
Middle Eastern terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah frequently maintain civilian units of doctors and lawyers to emphasize their outreach with local politicians and to increase their political acceptance in the international arena.
Conceivably, the Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, better known by the Turkish acronym IHH, would fit into Brennan’s definition of the charitable side of organizations such as Hezbollah. However, IHH’s ties to al-Qaida have been amply documented by experts such as former investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who led the French judiciary’s counter-terrorism unit for nearly two decades before retiring in 1977.
Despite this history, IHH is not included on the State Department’s current list of 45 groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations, which names both Hezbollah and Hamas.
In a speech to New York University law school students posted on YouTube by the White House, Brennan included a lengthy statement in Arabic that he did not translate for his English-speaking audience.
Noting he was an undergraduate at the American University in Cairo in the 1970s, Brennan proceeded to use only the Arabic name, “Al Quds,” when referring to Jerusalem, commenting that during his 25-years in government he spent considerable time in the Middle East, as a political officer with the State Department and as a CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia.
“In Saudi Arabia, I saw how our Saudi partners fulfilled their duty as custodians of the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina,” he said. “I marveled at the majesty of the Hajj and the devotion of those who fulfilled their duty as Muslims of making that pilgrimage.”
WND previously reported Brennan participated in a meeting with Muslim law students facilitated by the Islamic Society of North America, a group designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case in which the founders of the Holy Land Foundation of Texas were given life sentences “for funneling $12 million” to Hamas, the group currently in political control of the Gaza.
WND further reported that at the meeting with Muslim law students at New York University, Brennan declared himself a “citizen of the world,” who believed the U.S. government should never engage in “profiling” in pursuit of national security.