Archive for July, 2010

22
Jul
10

The World’s Worst Counterterrorism Ideas

by Joshua E. Keating

As the Washington Post explores the unwieldy and unaccountable intelligence sector developed in the United States since the 9/11 attacks, here’s a look at some even less efficient ways of combating militants around the world.

This article was originally published in Foreign Policy. Click here for the link.

DIAL “M” FOR MILITANT

Country: Germany

Scheme: Germany estimates that it now contains as many 29 radical Islamist organizations with some 36,000 members. These figures include the so-called“German Taliban,” which is said to have recruited fighters for militant groups in Pakistan. To combat this growing radicalization, the country’s domestic intelligence agency recently announced that it is setting up a new “exit program,” including a telephone hotline for militants who are looking for a way to get out.

The program, called “HATIF” — or “phone” in Arabic — aims to helpradicals transition out of militant organizations by finding them jobs or relocating them. The hotline staff will be fluent in German, Arabic, and Turkish.

In announcing the hotline, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière warned the public to keep its expectations low — and his caution is probably justified. HATIF is based on a German program from the early 2000s aimed at deradicalizing neo-Nazi youth. Despite the call center’s best efforts, however, only a few dozen low-level skinheads out of the country’s estimated 33,000 took advantage.

THE ONE-WEEK DERADICALIZATION PLAN

Country: Yemen

Scheme: Yemen was once considered a leader in terrorist rehabilitation, after the government set up one of the first rehab programs following the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately the program, known as theCommittee for Religious Dialogue, proved to be a complete disaster.

As part of the program, hundreds of radical prisoners in Yemeni prisons engaged in “theological duels” with religious counselors, who urged them to renounce violence — a process that generally lasted only a few days.

Once the debriefing was over, the men were released into society with no support or follow-up. More troublingly, the counseling tended to focus on convincing the militants that Yemen was an Islamic state and receiving their assurances that they would refrain from carrying out attacks within the country. Discouraging militant activity elsewhere was not a priority. Perhaps not surprisingly, the program had a high recidivism rate: Some distinguished alumni were killed while fighting U.S. forces in Iraq, and many others remain unaccounted for.

Due to a lack of funding and political will, the program was cancelled in 2005. In counterterrorism circles, Yemen is now best known for releasing some of the world’s most dangerous militants from jail, including the American-born cleric Anwar al-Alwaki, who reportedly counseled both Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and the “Christmas bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

THE NAME GAME

Country: Pakistan

Scheme: For many years, militant front groups in Pakistan were able to take advantage of a loophole in a 1997 anti-terrorism law to hide in plain sight — so long as they changed their name.

The law treated groups with new names as entirely different groups, even if they were founded by the same members. Lashkar-e-Taiba, for instance, the anti-Indian militant group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was first banned by Pakistan in 2002. But many of its leaders continued operating under the new name Jamaat-ud-Dawa. When that group was sanctioned by the United Nations in 2008, the Pakistani government cracked down and members rebranded themselves as “Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool.” Most recently, senior members of the group were holding rallies under the name “Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awal.”

To close down the loophole, the Pakistani government amended the law in late 2009 to say that a group formed by members of another banned group with the same aims would also be banned.

FAMILY TIES

Countries: Chechnya, Russia

Scheme: Beginning soon after the 2004 Beslan school massacre, the regional government of Chechnya began a policy of punishing militants by targeting their families. That year, eight relatives of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov were detained in a small room for six months and tortured with beatings and electric current. Relatives of other militant leaders simply disappeared.

Lately, authorities have adopted a new tactic — burning down the houses of militants’ families. While only top leaders used to be targeted for this treatment, Human Rights Watch documents 26 cases of punitive arson between June 2008 and March 2009. Moscow-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to deny responsibility; he has publicly warned the families of militants that they can expect punishment unless they turn their relatives in.

Kadyrov’s tactics are proving popular. Regional authorities in neighboring Dagestan have also taken to threatening villages with destruction unless they turn militants in. But the measures appear to have little effect, as the deadly attacks in the Caucasus and Russia continue.

PRISON MADRASSAS

Countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Syria

Scheme: Throughout the Middle East, mass arrests are a popular strategy for suppressing Islamist movements. The problem is, locking up large groups of radicals in a room together is not necessarily the best way to keep their ideology from spreading. Egyptian prisons, where the father of modern militant Islam, Sayyid Qutb, wrote his most influential works during the 1950s, and al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri was radicalized, currently holdsomewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 political prisoners. These include members of the banned but relatively nonviolent Muslim Brotherhood and partisans of more militant groups like Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Rounding up the usual suspects is also a popular tactic in Jordan, where human rights groups say prisoner abuse is widespread. Jihadist groups are thought to have established extensive networks in Jordanian prisons, at times even organizing simultaneous riots in multiple prisons. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who went on to lead al Qaeda in Iraq, is said to have been radicalized during a prison stint in the late 1980s that turned him from a petty drug user into a committed Islamist militant. Mass arrests have also been used to crack down on Islamist movements in AlgeriaSaudi ArabiaSyria and elsewhere — with, mostly likely, similar degrees of success.

Of course, it’s not that prison never works. Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, the former al Qaeda early adopter, began to publish books critical of his old militant friends once he was locked up for life in the Egyptian prison system.

Joshua E. Keating is an associate editor at Foreign Policy.

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12
Jul
10

The Sheikh Who Got Away

How the United States got Lebanon’s leading Shiite cleric dead wrong — and missed a chance to change the Middle East forever.

by David Kenner

This article was originally published in Foreign Policy. Click here for the link.

The coffin of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, covered in a black cloth embroidered in gold with verses from the Quran, wound through Beirut’s southern suburbs July 6, traveling from his home to the Hassanein mosque, where he used to deliver Friday sermons. It was followed by thousands of mourners, most of them wearing black and many carrying pictures of Lebanon’s most eminent Shiite cleric on their way to his final resting place.

Tributes poured in from across the Middle East. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei referred to the late ayatollah as a “true companion of the Islamic Republic.” Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, even came out of hiding to pay his respects at Fadlallah’s casket and offer his condolences to his family. Nasrallah issued a statement mourning the death of “a merciful father and a wise guide.”

But the accolades did not just come from America’s enemies. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni leader considered sympathetic to the United States, called Fadlallah “a voice of moderation and an advocate of unity.” Ali al-Adeeb, an official in Iraq’s Dawa Party, which Fadlallah helped create, said that it “will be hard to replace him.” Dawa Party leader and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has worked closely with U.S. forces in the country, counted himself among the ayatollah’s many followers. Even British Ambassador to Lebanon Frances Guy offered her praise, writing that when visiting with him “you could be sure of a real debate … and you knew you would leave his presence feeling a better person.”

Although Fadlallah may have confounded the Middle East’s traditional fault lines, the United States never wavered on its stance toward the ayatollah: He was the “spiritual advisor” to Hezbollah, a terrorist who was responsible for numerous attacks on U.S. interests in the region. This grudge was formed more than a quarter-century ago, during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, when the CIA reportedly sponsored a notorious plot to assassinate Fadlallah.

On March 8, 1985, a car bomb carrying 200 kilograms of explosives detonated outside Fadlallah’s home in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The bomb devastated the neighborhood, killing 80 people and wounding approximately 200 more. Fadlallah, however, escaped without injury. In the eyes of his followers, there was no doubt who was responsible: They strung up a “MADE IN USA” banner over a destroyed building immediately following the attack. The U.S. government, however, steadfastly denied any involvement. Targeted assassinations, officials pointed out, were explicitly forbidden since Gerald Ford’s administration.

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s explosive account of CIA involvement in the Middle East, Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987, would eventually undermine the official denials. Woodward, drawing on interviews with President Ronald Reagan’s aggressive CIA Director William Casey, reported that Casey had circumvented the spy agency’s established bureaucracy to funnel money to a professional hit team trained to assassinate Fadlallah.

It was a bloody time for the United States in Lebanon. The 1983 U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks bombings and the 1984 attack on the U.S. Embassy annex in East Beirut had claimed the lives of hundreds of Americans. The CIA station chief in Beirut, William Francis Buckley, was also kidnapped in 1984 and eventually died in captivity after being tortured by Hezbollah interrogators. U.S. officials were itching for revenge. Fadlallah “had been connected to all three bombings of Americans facilities in Beirut,” wrote Woodward. “He had to go.”

Woodward may have gotten an explosive scoop on the inside story of the CIA’s involvement, but he got the much easier story of Fadlallah’s relationship with Hezbollah wrong. In Veil, Woodward refers to Fadlallah as “the leader of the Party of God, Hizbollah,” and an “archterrorist.” The confusion over Fadlallah’s connection to the organization would continue to bedevil U.S officials and media until the current day.

Robert Baer, a former CIA case officer who worked in Beirut during the 1980s, denies that Fadlallah played any operational role within Hezbollah. “I can guarantee you, and I have seen every bit of intelligence, that Fadlallah had no connection [to the attacks],” he told me. “He knew the people carrying out the terrorism acts, but he had no connection in ordering them.”

Fadlallah himself consistently denied having any official role within the Shiite militant group, even while making no apologies for supporting many of its aims. “I live in a warm atmosphere surrounded by the youth of ‘Hezbollah,’ whom I consider my sons,” he said in one 1995 interview. “However, and since the inception of Hezbollah, I was never part of its organizational structure.”

Fadlallah did have relationships with some of the highest-ranking Hezbollah officials and had never made a secret of the fact that he issued rulings offering religious sanctions for its attacks. He enthusiastically supported attacks against Western forces in Lebanon during the civil war and continued to support attacks on Israel until his last days.

“He wasn’t our friend, let’s get that straight,” noted Baer. “But that doesn’t mean he was a master terrorist.”

Fadlallah’s political worldview considered the Islamic world a victim of oppression and injustice at the hands of imperialism and Zionism. Like his contemporaries in the Shiite Islamic revival of the era, he turned to the Quran for justification to overturn the status quo. “There is no alternative to a bitter and difficult jihad,” he wrote in a 1983 article titled “The Islamic Revolution in Iran: Reflections from the Inside,” to remedy these ills.

He also provided religious legitimacy for the use of suicide operations in this religious war. “There is no difference between dying with a gun in your hand or exploding yourself,” he reasoned. “What is the difference between setting out for battle knowing you will die after killing ten [enemies], and setting out to the field and knowing you will die while killing them?”

While Fadlallah’s political agenda often overlapped with Hezbollah’s, he often parted ways with the group on important matters of religion. He came to embody an Arab Shiism that competed for primacy with the Iranian clerics who seized power following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Fadlallah distinguished himself from Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini by fusing Shiism with Arab nationalism.

“[N]obody can criticize the Islamists about their Arabism,” he wrote in his 1997 book Hadith Ashura. “We are intertwined with Arabic, our Prophet was Arab, our language is Arabic, and for this reason Islam has been able to expand in the Arab circle.”

Hezbollah, with its strong religious and operational ties to Iran, recognized Khomeini and later Khamenei as its preeminent source of religious knowledge and authority. Fadlallah supportedwilayet al-faqih, Iran’s religiously inspired system of governance, during the 1980s, under the reign of Khomeini, a respected cleric. However, he soon broke with the system after Khomeini’s replacement by Khamenei, who could not match his predecessor’s religious authority.

In 1995, Fadlallah declared himself a marja, the highest religious authority within Shiism — a step that was opposed by the Iranian religious establishment, which saw Khamenei as the proper source of emulation for the Shiite world. Although both Iran and Hezbollah issued statements praising Fadlallah upon his death, they studiously avoided referring to him as a marja.

For this reason, Western claims that Fadlallah was “the spiritual advisor” to Hezbollah were particularly ironic: Although he was clearly influential, it was on precisely the issue of Fadlallah’s ultimate religious authority that he and the Party of God parted ways.

Starting in the 1990s, Fadlallah began to preach a more self-consciously modern version of Shiism, placing particular emphasis on scientific and rational methods. He opposed the practice of self-flagellation on the Shiite holy day of Ashura, arguing that it accentuated sectarian differences in Lebanon rather than promoting coexistence. His rulings in the field of gender relations have also been important: He asserted that women were qualified to lead men in prayer and were fully capable of moving up the ranks of the Shiite clergy, up to the post of ayatollah. In 2007, he issued a fatwa saying that a woman could fight back in self-defense if she were beaten by her husband.

This debate was more than an internecine feud over religious principles — it had important repercussions for the political balance of power within Lebanon’s Shiite community. Fadlallah criticized Hezbollah openly at times, notably picking a fight with the group after it declared to its supporters that voting for the party in the 2005 parliamentary election was a religious obligation. He argued that such “perverted practices” would eventually delegitimize religious authority. His extensive network of schools throughout Lebanon, which enrolled 14,300 students in 2000, produces its own religious textbooks rather than use those approved by Iran’s religious leadership.

Just as the relationship between Fadlallah and Hezbollah was hitting a low point in the mid-1990s, the United States once again lumped the Shiite cleric in with the party. Fadlallah was declared a “leading ideological figure” of Hezbollah and named a “Specially Designated Terrorist,” which empowered the U.S. Treasury to freeze his assets and prohibited him from conducting any future financial transactions with U.S. institutions.

Fadlallah’s charities continued to attract the attention of the U.S. government — even causing problems for some of its erstwhile allies. In 2003, the United States barred then Lebanese Finance Minister Fouad Siniora from entering the country because of a donation he had made to Fadlallah’s charity years earlier. Siniora would go on to serve as Lebanon’s prime minister from 2005 to 2009, acting as a staunch supporter of U.S. policies in the region during a period when the Lebanese government confronted Syria and its domestic Lebanese allies.

Following the end of the Lebanese civil war, Fadlallah became more circumspect about justifying attacks on Western targets. Along with Hezbollah and Iran, Fadlallah condemned the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as incompatible with Islamic law. The attackers, he said, were not martyrs but “merely suicides.” He attributed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s motivations for carrying out the attacks to “personal psychological needs” stemming from a “tribal urge for revenge.” He also denounced the July 7, 2005, attacks in London as “a kind of barbarism that Islam unequivocally rejects.”

As Fadlallah grew in stature throughout the Arab world and also seized the attention of many in Washington, the competing portrayals of him quickly failed to bear even a passing resemblance to each other. For the U.S. government, he was an unrepentant terrorist who played an integral role in Hezbollah’s most vicious operations. To the mourners in Beirut, he was a fierce critic of colonialism and an important pioneer in efforts to reconcile traditional religious teaching with modernity and gender equality.

There was an element of truth to the U.S. stance: Fadlallah was certainly no liberal, nor an ally to be recruited to advance U.S. security goals. However, even a quarter-century after that misguided assassination attempt, U.S. officials failed to appreciate the areas where their interests and Fadlallah’s overlapped, both in isolating Iran and reducing the appeal of fundamentalism within Lebanon. The United States always preferred blunt instruments and simple epithets — crude tools indeed for a complex man.

David Kenner is an assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

11
Jul
10

CNN was wrong about Ayatollah Fadlallah

by Robert Fisk

This article was originally published by The Independent. Click here for the link.

I might have guessed it. CNN has fired one of its senior Middle East editors, Octavia Nasr, for publishing a twitter – or twatter in this case, I suppose – extolling Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon, calling him “one of Hizbollah’s giants whom I respect a lot”.
Well, he wasn’t Hizbollah’s man, but no matter. He was definitely a giant. A man of immense learning and jurisprudence, a believer in women’s rights, a hater of “honour crimes”, a critic of the theocratic system of government in Iran, a … Well, I’d better be careful because I might get a phone call from Parisa Khosravi, who goes by the title of CNN’s “senior vice president” – what these boss types do or what they get paid for their gutless decisions I have no idea – who said this week that she had “had a conversation” with Nasr (who’d been with the company for 20 years) and “we have decided that she will be leaving the company”.
Oh deary, deary. Poor old CNN goes on getting more cowardly by the hour. That’s why no one cares about it any more. That can’t be said about Fadlallah. The Americans put it about that he had blessed the suicide bomber who struck the US marine base in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 service personnel. Fadlallah always denied this to me and I believe him. Suicide bombers, however insane we regard them, don’t need to be blessed; they think they are doing God’s duty without any help from a marja like Fadlallah. But anyway, Washington used Saudi money to arrange a car bombing to assassinate Fadlallah in 1985. It missed Fadlallah. But it killed more than 80 innocent people. I do wonder what Ms Khosravi would have thought of that. No comment, I guess.
And now it turns out that the British ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, has written on her personal blog that Fadlallah was a man she respected and most enjoyed meeting in Lebanon. What possesses these personalities to have blogapops all over the place I have no idea. But Ms Guy has incurred the anger of the Israeli foreign ministry, whose spokesman says it would be “interesting” to know what the British Foreign Office thinks of her remarks. Personally, I would be far more “interested” in what the Israeli foreign ministry knows of the British passports its government forged in order to murder a man in Dubai not many months ago.
But it just goes to show that Fadlallah – who was also a poet – can get people’s backs up, even in death. When my friend and colleague Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Beirut – at almost seven years underground, he qualified as the longest-held hostage – I went to see Fadlallah, whom Anderson had himself recently interviewed. “He was in my home and he was under my protection,” he said to me. “I regard him as my friend.” This remark might have been what kept Terry alive: by extraordinary chance, Terry was back in Beirut this week with a party of students, although I always wondered if his visit to the southern suburbs of the city was what got him nobbled.
In those days, we journos called Fadlallah Hizbollah’s “spiritual mentor”, though that wasn’t true. He did support the Lebanese resistance during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and he was a fierce opponent of US policy in the region – like almost everyone else in the world, including the US, it seems – and he demanded an end of Shia blood-shedding ceremonies at Ashura (when Shias mourn the killing of the Prophet’s grandson).
I went to see Fadlallah again with kidnapping much on my mind. I was heading off to Baghdad and sought his guidance on how to avoid being abducted. He listened kindly to me and announced that I should see a close Shia Muslim religious friend of his in the Iraqi capital. This I did. And was escorted to Najaf and Karbala by an associate of the friend who sat in his religious clothes in the front of the car, reading the Koran all the way. “I was very worried for you,” Fadlallah’s friend said when I returned. So now you tell me, I exclaimed.
But there was a further reason for Fadlallah’s help. For every hour I was in the Iraqi holy cities, I had to meet a Shia clergyman, each of them former students of Fadlallah. And each of them would hand me a vast pile of writings and documents – their accumulated sermons over the past 10 or 15 years. To each I promised to pass their papers to Fadlallah. And thus it was that, a month later, a suspicious-looking Fisk turned up in the southern suburbs of Beirut with two massive suitcases. Fadlallah greeted me with a huge smile. He knew what the bags contained. Fisk had been a courier for more jurisprudence than he could imagine. And Fadlallah knew what his colleagues in Najaf and Karbala were talking about.
I couldn’t, frankly, care less what senior vice president Khosravi of CNN thinks of this story – though spare me one of her “conversations” – nor do I care what the Israeli foreign ministry thinks. Nor British ambassadors, for that matter. But I do believe that Fadlallah was a very serious and very important man whose constant sermons on the need for spiritual regeneration and kindness did more good than most in a country constantly flooded in a rhetoric bath. Hundreds of thousands attended his funeral in Beirut on Tuesday. I am not surprised.

I might have guessed it. CNN has fired one of its senior Middle East editors, Octavia Nasr, for publishing a twitter – or twatter in this case, I suppose – extolling Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon, calling him “one of Hizbollah’s giants whom I respect a lot”.Well, he wasn’t Hizbollah’s man, but no matter. He was definitely a giant. A man of immense learning and jurisprudence, a believer in women’s rights, a hater of “honour crimes”, a critic of the theocratic system of government in Iran, a … Well, I’d better be careful because I might get a phone call from Parisa Khosravi, who goes by the title of CNN’s “senior vice president” – what these boss types do or what they get paid for their gutless decisions I have no idea – who said this week that she had “had a conversation” with Nasr (who’d been with the company for 20 years) and “we have decided that she will be leaving the company”.

Oh deary, deary. Poor old CNN goes on getting more cowardly by the hour. That’s why no one cares about it any more. That can’t be said about Fadlallah. The Americans put it about that he had blessed the suicide bomber who struck the US marine base in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 service personnel. Fadlallah always denied this to me and I believe him. Suicide bombers, however insane we regard them, don’t need to be blessed; they think they are doing God’s duty without any help from a marja like Fadlallah. But anyway, Washington used Saudi money to arrange a car bombing to assassinate Fadlallah in 1985. It missed Fadlallah. But it killed more than 80 innocent people. I do wonder what Ms Khosravi would have thought of that. No comment, I guess.

And now it turns out that the British ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, has written on her personal blog that Fadlallah was a man she respected and most enjoyed meeting in Lebanon. What possesses these personalities to have blogapops all over the place I have no idea. But Ms Guy has incurred the anger of the Israeli foreign ministry, whose spokesman says it would be “interesting” to know what the British Foreign Office thinks of her remarks. Personally, I would be far more “interested” in what the Israeli foreign ministry knows of the British passports its government forged in order to murder a man in Dubai not many months ago.

But it just goes to show that Fadlallah – who was also a poet – can get people’s backs up, even in death. When my friend and colleague Terry Anderson was kidnapped in Beirut – at almost seven years underground, he qualified as the longest-held hostage – I went to see Fadlallah, whom Anderson had himself recently interviewed. “He was in my home and he was under my protection,” he said to me. “I regard him as my friend.” This remark might have been what kept Terry alive: by extraordinary chance, Terry was back in Beirut this week with a party of students, although I always wondered if his visit to the southern suburbs of the city was what got him nobbled.

In those days, we journos called Fadlallah Hizbollah’s “spiritual mentor”, though that wasn’t true. He did support the Lebanese resistance during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and he was a fierce opponent of US policy in the region – like almost everyone else in the world, including the US, it seems – and he demanded an end of Shia blood-shedding ceremonies at Ashura (when Shias mourn the killing of the Prophet’s grandson).

I went to see Fadlallah again with kidnapping much on my mind. I was heading off to Baghdad and sought his guidance on how to avoid being abducted. He listened kindly to me and announced that I should see a close Shia Muslim religious friend of his in the Iraqi capital. This I did. And was escorted to Najaf and Karbala by an associate of the friend who sat in his religious clothes in the front of the car, reading the Koran all the way. “I was very worried for you,” Fadlallah’s friend said when I returned. So now you tell me, I exclaimed.

But there was a further reason for Fadlallah’s help. For every hour I was in the Iraqi holy cities, I had to meet a Shia clergyman, each of them former students of Fadlallah. And each of them would hand me a vast pile of writings and documents – their accumulated sermons over the past 10 or 15 years. To each I promised to pass their papers to Fadlallah. And thus it was that, a month later, a suspicious-looking Fisk turned up in the southern suburbs of Beirut with two massive suitcases. Fadlallah greeted me with a huge smile. He knew what the bags contained. Fisk had been a courier for more jurisprudence than he could imagine. And Fadlallah knew what his colleagues in Najaf and Karbala were talking about.

I couldn’t, frankly, care less what senior vice president Khosravi of CNN thinks of this story – though spare me one of her “conversations” – nor do I care what the Israeli foreign ministry thinks. Nor British ambassadors, for that matter. But I do believe that Fadlallah was a very serious and very important man whose constant sermons on the need for spiritual regeneration and kindness did more good than most in a country constantly flooded in a rhetoric bath. Hundreds of thousands attended his funeral in Beirut on Tuesday. I am not surprised.

Middle East correspondent for The Independent, Robert Fisk has been based in Beirut for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East and Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War.