- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Arabs in Lebanon, the West Bank and Egypt celebrated the attacks on New York and the Pentagon yesterday but their leaders quickly condemned the events.
The bloodthirsty joy at the deaths of thousands of Americans reflects seething Arab anger over U.S. support for Israel, which is engaged in a year-old struggle to suppress a Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza.
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank city of Nablus, chanting "God is Great" and distributing candy to celebrate the bombings of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington.
"Bin Laden, bomb Tel Aviv," they cried, according to an Agence France-Presse correspondent on the scene. "Bin Laden has begun, and we will carry on."
They referred to the Saudi terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, who is sheltered by Afghanistan from prosecution for attacking U.S. embassies, warships and military posts.
The celebrations were in sharp contrast to the reactions of Arab leaders, who uniformly condemned the attacks. Several Arab allies have been warning the United States for months about the rising anger in their streets over the U.S. reaction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Some Arabs said yesterday's attacks were "divine vengeance" for American support for Israel.
In Lebanon's Ain al-Helweh refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon, Palestinian guerrillas welcomed the attacks with rifle fire. In several other refugee camps, Palestinians rushed into the streets to celebrate.
In Egypt, a staunch American ally and the first Arab state to make peace with Israel, people told reporters they were thrilled at the attacks.
Samira Mohammed, a 26-year-old lawyer, said, "I was very happy when I heard the news. My happiness is based on my utter rejection of the U.S. treatment of the Middle East case."
"Bull's-eye" and "nice work" said others as they watched the collapsing New York buildings on television.
Abdel Karim, a driver for an Asian embassy in Cairo, told a reporter, "The Americans have forgotten that God exists.
"They have us by the throat, and now they find themselves in a science-fiction scenario. But this time Rambo's not there to save the White House."
The official reactions were very different. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak condemned the attacks on the United States, which supplies it with close to $2 billion a year in military and economic assistance.
"Egypt firmly and strongly condemns such attacks on civilians and soldiers that led to the deaths of a large number of innocent victims," Mr. Mubarak said in remarks aired on national television.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat also condemned the attacks as he watched news footage in his seaside office in Gaza City.
"I send my condolences to the president, the government and the people for this terrible incident," Mr. Arafat said. "We are completely shocked. It's unbelievable."
The one Arab government that took official satisfaction at the attacks was Iraq, which called the action the "fruit" of American crimes.
"The American cowboys are reaping the fruit of their crimes against humanity," said an official statement read on Iraqi television.
Hassan Abdel Rahman, Washington representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said those Palestinians who celebrated the carnage were not typical.
"Those are young boys who do not represent the Palestinian people or the Palestinian leadership," he said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Rahman pledged to cooperate "in any effort we can to apprehend those responsible."
The leader of a Palestinian terrorist group, Islamic Jihad, which has carried out suicide bombings against Israel, said the attacks were the result of American support for Israel.
"What happened in the United States today is a consequence of American policies in the hottest region in the world," Nafez Azzam said in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, another Palestinian Islamic militant group, denied it was linked to the attacks but said, "Washington must seriously revise its policies in the world."
"The Hamas strategy consists of fighting against the Zionist occupier in Palestine but not outside of Palestine," said Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh.
Even leaders in Afghanistan, which shelters the prime suspect in the attacks — Osama bin Laden — expressed opposition to the attacks.
"We have criticized, and we are now again criticizing terrorism in all its forms," Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil told reporters. He denied that bin Laden could have carried out the attacks.


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