CNN’s senior editor of Middle East affairs, Octavia Nasr, posted a message on her Twitter account on Sunday in which she expressed sadness at the death of Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, described by terrorism analysts as the spiritual mentor of Hizbullah.

“Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot,” Nasr wrote.

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Nasr’s remarks drew fire from the Honest Reporting media watchdog, which asked on its Web site, “Is Nasr a Hezbollah sympathizer? This is disturbing enough given that the group is designated a terrorist organization by the US and is committed to the destruction of Israel.

And which of Fadlallah’s individual views does Nasr admire?” CNN did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Although described by sections of the Western media as a firebrand-preacher-turnedmoderate, Fadlallah went on record as praising the massacre of eight Israeli students at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in 2008, according to Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs researcher Shimon Shapira.

“In his sermon during Friday prayers, Fadlallah declared, ‘The heroic operation in Jerusalem proved that the mujahedeen in Palestine are able to hit the Zionists hard.’ His remarks were carried by Hizbullah’s television network, Al-Manar,’” Shapira said in a 2008 article for the JCPA.

In March of that year, Fadlallah told Al-Manar that Israel had “inflated” the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, in an interview translated and made available by MEMRI.

“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,” the ayatollah said.

Ely Karmon, senior researcher at the Institute for Counter Terrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that Fadlallah was an extremist figure who had continued to exert major influence on Hizbullah even after distancing himself from the organization due to a dispute over its subservience to Iran.

Karmon carried out an in-depth study into Fadlallah’s Web site in 2000 and compared it to Hizbullah’s.

“Every Friday, he would publish his sermon online, which carried both a religious and a political message. Two days later, the same messages would be published by Hizbullah’s Web Site. He continued to influence Hizbullah... He remained fiercely anti-American and anti-Israel,” Karmon said.

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