Middle East

Middle East

Will U.S. Foreign Policy Increase Terrorism?

Lebanese Shiite Muslim leader Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah on June 24, 2004. (Photo: Paul Cochrane)

“As long as American foreign policy remains the same and the Palestinian issue is left unresolved, the U.S. ‘war on terror’ will increase terrorism by 100 percent,” said Lebanese Shiite Muslim leader Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.

In an interview, Fadlallah talked about the effects of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy, the assassination attempt on his life in 1985 by the CIA and the recent U.S. sanctions on Syria.

Talking at his residence in the Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik, the aging Shiite spiritual leader, his eyes bright and alert, said: “the method the American administration has used in the war against terror may have complicated the situation even more.”

Fadlallah said the roots of terrorism stem from U.S. foreign policy in the region that “leads to a psychological state that opposes the U.S. administration.” He cited America's economic policy and continuing support of Arab elites as another central cause for generating terrorism, whether against the U.S. or Arab regimes.

“In this sense, the occupation of Iraq has increased acts of terrorism against the U.S. and everyone going along with it, including the Iraqis themselves. This is especially the case as many in the Arab and Islamic world consider (ousted Iraqi president) Saddam Hussein and his regime as an associate of the U.S. because he had been a CIA employee since the beginning,” he said.

Fadlallah said that the U.S. had helped Hussein in his war against his own people, during the 1980 to 1988 war with Iran, and the invasion of Kuwait. “Later America helped end the (1991 Shiite uprising) intifada against Saddam,” he added.

People in the region also believe, he said, that the U.S. administration lied about weapons of mass destruction, and the U.S. should refrain from accusing Arab and Islamic countries of possessing such weapons when the country with the strongest arsenal in the region is Israel.

“It is for these reasons that the reaction to the Arab and Islamic people cannot be solved by military force ... they should be worked out through economic and political solutions by America,” Fadlallah said.

“American foreign policy has succeeded in spreading political, economic and security instability in the region without attaining any important goal. Even more, I find its occupation of Iraq and its absolute commitment to Israel has frozen the war against terrorism in the region and the whole world,” he added.

Fadlallah said the roots of global terrorism began in Afghanistan, through the CIA's training of the mujahideen in the war against the Soviet Union.

“It put in front of them all the concepts they've started using now in their resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It has given them the terrorism culture it used against the Soviets that Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Saudi Arabia are using all over the region,” he said. “America was the one to launch the culture of terrorism it is fighting today,” Fadlallah said, referring to what the CIA has termed “blowback” - the unintended consequences of American actions abroad.

“I believe that as long as the American policy is what it is in the region, and as long as the Palestinian issue remains with no just solution and the situation in Iraq continues, terrorism in the Arab and Islamic world, and the whole world, shall increase by 100 percent,” he said. Fadlallah believes this because alternative solutions will become increasingly harder to implement.

Fadlallah talked about the assassination attempt on his life in March 1985, when a bomb was placed outside a mosque in Beirut timed to explode when worshippers left. Fadlallah escaped, but some 80 people were killed and over 200 wounded. The assassination attempt has never been exposed in Western mainstream media before.

Fadlallah said the CIA director at the time, William J. Casey, had told the Saudi Arabian ambassador that the sheikh had become annoying to U.S. policy and should be removed. The U.S. also claimed Fadlallah was behind the devastating attack in 1983 on the U.S. Marines' barracks in Beirut. “They were incapable of finding any proof that I was responsible for these operations,” he said.

“The Arab ambassador paid Casey $3 million to assign agents, British (secret service, MI6 agents) and Lebanese, to plan the assassination. They failed,” Fadlallah said.

Regarding the U.S. imposition of sanctions against Syria, Fadlallah said he doesn't believe it will have serious effects “because U.S. President George W. Bush didn't want to put any sanctions that might cut off all relations with Syria. This is more a political and media operation than an economic one.”

Fadlallah said that America needs to sustain normal relations with Syria, especially political and security related.

Although the Syria Accountability Act calls for a withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, Fadlallah believes Lebanon will not be affected. “These sanctions are imposed on Syria and have nothing to do with Lebanon,” he said.

Fadlallah ended the interview on an upbeat note saying: “When given the freedom to run its own business and when the Iraqi Army succeeds in controlling the military and administrative forces, the Iraqis will be able to attain stability and security on their own.”