US to ‘strengthen Hizbullah moderates’

White House is looking to "to diminish their influence from within."

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDE
May 20, 2010 02:30
1 minute read.
 John Brennan, Assistant to the President and Depu

John Brennan, terrorism adviser. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WASHINGTON – A top White House counterterrorism official said Tuesday that the US was seeking to strengthen moderates in Hizbullah, according to media accounts.

John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, was quoted by Reuters as telling a Washington conference that elements of Hizbullah “are truly a concern to us, what they’re doing. And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.”

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In his comments, he also apparently charted the course of the “very interesting organization” from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia, to an entity that now counts members in the Lebanese parliament and even cabinet posts.

He noted that for now, with the US considering Hizbullah a foreign terrorist organization, “We don’t deal with them.”

In the past, Brennan has made similar comments about changes in Hizbullah. Last August he told another Washington think tank that it had “evolved significantly over time,” from being solely a terror group to having members who are in government or are lawyers, doctors and other professionals.

“However, within Hizbullah, there’s still a terrorist core,” he said. “And hopefully those elements within the Shi’a community in Lebanon and within Hizbullah 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.

He added, “And so, quite frankly, I’m pleased to see that a lot of Hizbullah 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.”


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