- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2012

A Washington-based foundation has canceled a meeting with Syria’s top Islamic cleric, a close ally of embattled President Bashar Assad who has vowed to unleash suicide bombers against the U.S. and Europe if the West attacks his country.

The Foundation for Middle East Peace had invited Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun to speak at its conference on “Coexistence and Dialogue” in Washington on Thursday.

Philip Wilcox, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, told The Washington Times on Monday afternoon that the decision to cancel the event was taken “just now.”

In a speech in October, Grand Mufti Hassoun warned the U.S. and Europe that “we will prepare martyrdom-seekers who are already among you, if you bomb Syria or Lebanon.”

“The moment the first missile hits Syria, all the sons and daughters of Lebanon and Syria will set out to become martyrdom-seekers in Europe and on Palestinian soil,” he added.

“We were not aware of his speech, which was at odds with the theme of the event,” said Mr. Wilcox, whose group is described on its website as being devoted to fostering peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

• Ashish Kumar Sen can be reached at asen@washingtontimes.com.

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