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Convicted Terrorism Supporter Holds Virtual Discussion With Former US Secretary Of State’s Chief Of Staff

November 22nd, 2021 15:29

On 13 Octo­ber 2021, Col. (Retired) Lawrence B. Wilk­er­son, the for­mer Chief of Staff of late US Sec­re­tary Of State Col­in Pow­ell, par­tic­i­pat­ed in a vir­tu­al dis­cus­sion about US for­eign pol­i­cy and the War on Ter­ror mod­er­at­ed by con­vict­ed ter­ror­ism sup­port­er Sami Al-Ari­an. Accord­ing to intro­duc­to­ry remarks to the live-streamed conversation:

Today, we have the dis­tinct hon­or of hav­ing a very dis­tin­guished [guest], a for­mer pub­lic offi­cial who is very coura­geous, and hon­est, and dar­ing about his views – a real com­mod­i­ty in Wash­ing­ton. He open­ly speaks truth to pow­er, chal­lenges pub­lic pol­i­cy – not on the mar­gins, at the core. He’s will­ing to admit mis­takes and even offer apologies.

Watch the video here.

The event was host­ed by the Cen­ter for Islam and Glob­al Affairs (CIGA) at Istan­bul’s Saba­hat­tin Zaim Uni­ver­si­ty and also fea­tured con­tri­bu­tions and ques­tions by CIGA Senior Research Asso­ciate Üveys Han. Wilk­er­son, a retired US Army Colonel, has become known for pub­licly crit­i­ciz­ing many aspects of the Iraq War and has said that “the Jew­ish lob­by in Amer­i­ca” had played an out­sized influ­ence in the run-up to the war, sin­gling out Jew­ish offi­cials of the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion in his criticism.

Dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion with Al-Ari­an, Col. Wilk­er­son claimed that one rea­son for the US inva­sion of Iraq in 2003 was  the desire of Pres­i­dent George W. Bush to “avenge his father’s attempt­ed assas­si­na­tion of Sad­dam Hus­sein” and that he want­ed to ensure his reelec­tion, adding that Afghanistan did not “have enough tar­gets to demon­strate the incred­i­ble pow­er of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca.” Wilk­er­son also claimed that mul­ti­ple “deep-state” enti­ties col­lud­ed to shape US mil­i­tary and for­eign policies.

CIGA head Sami Al-Ari­an in 2006 plead­ed guilty to con­spir­ing to make or receive con­tri­bu­tions of funds, goods, or ser­vices to or for the ben­e­fit of the ter­ror­ist group Pales­tin­ian Islam­ic Jihad. CIGA has part­nered with sev­er­al Euro­pean Islamist and fun­da­men­tal­ist groups in spon­sor­ing a crit­i­cal report on the US War on Ter­ror that was co-edit­ed by Al-Ari­an. CIGA also co-spon­sored an “Inter­na­tion­al Wit­ness Cam­paign” com­mem­o­rat­ing the 20th anniver­sary of the War on Ter­ror, whose part­ner asso­ci­a­tions includ­ed a host of Islamist orga­ni­za­tions from sev­er­al Euro­pean coun­tries. In August 2021, the GIOR report­ed that CIGA had orga­nized an aca­d­e­m­ic con­fer­ence in Turkey named “Chal­leng­ing Apartheid in Pales­tine” that fea­tured promi­nent Islamist and Turk­ish fig­ures as well as US aca­d­e­mics with close ties to the GMB as speakers.

CIGA’s invi­ta­tion to Col. Wilk­er­son can be seen as a recent exam­ple of Islamist groups who host debates with cur­rent or for­mer mem­bers of the US gov­ern­ment crit­i­cal of coun­tert­er­ror­ism poli­cies in order to assist in dele­git­imiz­ing US coun­tert­er­ror­ism efforts.