US to ‘strengthen Hizbullah moderates’

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

John Brennan, terrorism adviser (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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.”
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 inHizbullah. Last August he told another Washington think tank that ithad “evolved significantly over time,” from being solely a terror groupto having members who are in government or are lawyers, doctors andother professionals.
“However, within Hizbullah, there’s still a terrorist core,” he said.“And hopefully those elements within the Shi’a community in Lebanon andwithin Hizbullah at large – they’re going to continue to look at thatextremist terrorist core as being something that is anathema to what,in fact, they’re trying to accomplish in terms of their aspirationsabout being part of the political process in Lebanon.
He added, “And so, quite frankly, I’m pleased to see that a lot ofHizbullah individuals are in fact renouncing that type of terrorism andviolence and are trying to participate in the political process in avery legitimate fashion.”