Reese Erlich
Common Dreams
August 13, 2010

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A senior editor at CNN lost her job for tweeting about him. Thousands of Lebanese Shiites poured into the streets to mourn him.

Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Fadlallah, often characterized in western media as the “spiritual adviser to Hezbollah,” died of natural causes in Beirut this week at the age of 75. Many western leaders considered him a terrorist.

I’ve met Ayatollah Fadlallah, and he was no terrorist.

The CIA and other intelligence agencies tried to murder Fadlallah several times in the 1980s because they mistakenly thought he was responsible for the bombings of the US Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. But Fadlallah’s survival only enhanced his reputation.

Apparently his aura continues to haunt the West. On July 7 Octavia Nasr, CNN Senior Editor for Middle East Affairs, sent out a tweet that she had “respect” for him and was “sad” about his passing. That was enough to get her fired.

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Fadlallah held views with which I strongly disagreed. But dismissing him and other Middle East leaders as terrorists only makes solving problems more difficult. So far President Obama continues the same wrong-headed policies as his predecessors.

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