Try and contain your shock and amazement.

(Big Peace) — For a group which claims to stand against terrorism, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) made an odd choice for the new chief of its Tampa chapter.

Hassan Shibly has a track record of defending terrorist groups and acting as an apologist for radical Islam. Following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War, Shibly granted legitimacy to Hizballah by characterizing it as a “resistance movement” that provides valued social services to the Lebanese people. “They’re absolutely not a terrorist organization,” Shibly said, and “any war against them is illegitimate.”

As a testament to his support for Hizballah’s cause, Shibly even expressed a desire to travel to Lebanon to aid the group’s war effort.

When asked to explicitly condemn Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist groups, Shibly wouldn’t. “Of course we condemn every single act of violence directed against — by Hamas and by Hizballah — directed against civilians,” Shibly said in a Feb. 28 lecture at a church in Youngstown, N.Y. “But the trick we fall into is when we want to condemn them as a whole we completely cut off any chances for having a peace process.”

To the public, however, CAIR offers a gentler face for Shibly.

His CAIR biography casts him as a man who works actively with inter-faith and social service organizations to “promote cooperation and understanding between diverse faiths and cultures.”

In a statement to the Tampa public, Shibly wrote “It is essential we work together as a community, with all those who stand for peace, freedom, love, and mutual respect, to counter those who wish to promote fear, hatred, and violence.”

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