‘Moderate’ Iranian President Meets with Terror Group, Calls for ‘Jihad’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with the leader of U.S.-designated terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, on Dec. 13, 2016 in Tehran. Although Rouhani has been the focal point of considerable attention by Western news media——much of it inaccurate and misleading——the meeting was largely unreported by many in the press.

According to Iranian state-controlled Fars News Agency, Rouhani told Shallah, “there is no way but jihad and resistance for the Palestinians against the usurper regime [Israel].” The Islamic Republic of Iran, like PIJ, Hamas and many members of Fatah, the movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA), refuses to recognize Israel and supports terror attacks against the Jewish state. As the U.S. State Department, among others, has noted, Iran is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism, providing funds and training to Hamas, PIJ, the Lebanese-based Hezbollah, and other U.S.-designated terror groups that call for Israel’s destruction.

Fars reported “Abdullah, for his part, appreciated Iran’s support for the Palestinian people and resistance groups, and said if Iran didn’t help, the Palestinians wouldn’t be able to maintain their position and inform the world of their ideas and causes.”
Islamic Jihad’s ‘ideas and causes’

As CAMERA has pointed out, in the sphere of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the phrase “resistance” is …… a euphemism for terrorism. And as was noted above, PIJ’s “ideas and causes” include eliminating Israel. Indeed, according to the Counter Extremism Project (CEP):

“PIJ aims to create a state based on sharia (Islamic law) in all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River——including Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Like Hamas, PIJ portrays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a religious clash, not merely a territorial dispute. PIJ believes that the land of Palestine is consecrated for Islam and that, therefore, Israel usurped Palestine. Consequently, Israel’s very existence is an affront to God and Islam, and destroying Israel and reconquering Palestine are religious obligations.”

Rouhani——the President of a country whose forces are actively destabilizing Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, among others——accused the “Zionist regime and its supporters [the U.S.]” of rejecting peace and paving the ground for terrorism in the Middle East.

As CAMERA highlighted in a July 2015 Op-Ed in The Hill, many Western news outlets have falsely labeled Rouhani a “moderate.” However, Rouhani endorsed the use of chemical weapons——illegal under international law——as well as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei’s 1989 fatwa calling for the murder of British author Salman Rushdie for simply writing a book his theocratic regime deemed heretical. Rouhani served as his nation’s national security adviser when the Israeli embassy and Jewish community center in Argentina were blown up in 1992 and 1994 respectively. Iran has been implicated in both terrorist attacks. The Iranian leader has also declared that United Flight 93 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 al-Qaeda terror attacks were “shot down by the United States Air Force.”
Where’s the coverage now?

Despite the frequent, if often inaccurate, media coverage of Rouhani, the Iranian President’s meeting with the PIJ head went largely unreported. A Lexis-Nexis search of major print news outlets, including USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others, failed to show any mention of Rouhani receiving the terror leader.

The failure to note the event is even more inexplicable, given the history of PIJ’s presence in the United States.

Several top PIJ operatives were educated in and even lived in the U.S., as CAMERA’s 2016 backgrounder on the movement noted. One of the group’s alleged top fundraisers, Sami al-Arian, even led a think tank at the University of South Florida, where he taught before he was deported after a U.S. government investigation and trial.

Rouhani’s decision to receive Shallah may signal closer relations between the Islamic Republic and PIJ. Although Iran has long been a patron of the group, …… giving as much as $100-150 million annually according to a 2014 estimate cited by CEP, Tehran has also cut funding in recent years. As CEP and others have reported, Iran may have “cut PIJ’s funding by 90 percent as of January 2016.” The reason? PIJ refused to issue a statement supporting Iran in its conflict against Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Iran also has a history of using its support for PIJ to put pressure on and influence relations with Hamas, a sometime ally and sometime rival of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

There are plenty of reasons to wonder why Iran’s “moderate” President is hosting the leader of PIJ, a group responsible for hundreds of deaths with a global presence. But the media isn’t asking, much less reporting on them.

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