Controversy erupted when Hawaii congressman Tulsi Gabbard visited Syria and Lebanon this week. During her visit, she met with Bashar Al-Assad, who is responsible for the civil war that murdered half a million people over the past six years. Initially, Gabbard refused to disclose who financed the trip and her press secretary only indicated that it was not paid for with American tax dollars. However, The Daily Beast revealed that it was sponsored by an organization called the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services, or AACCESS-Ohio for short.
Accompanying Gabbard in Syria were former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and two men named Elie and Bassam Khawam. Bassam Khawam is the executive director of ACCESS-Ohio. While Gabbard states these men are "peace advocates," The Daily Beast revealed the following information about the Khawam brothers:
In truth, Bassam and Elie Khawam are both officials in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), a political party and paramilitary organization founded in Lebanon in 1932, and currently actively engaged in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime.
The SSNP is best described as the Nazi party of Syria. The party has a long history of terrorism against the West and within the region spanning decades. Founded in 1932, the SSNP was one of Nazi Germany's earliest and passionate supporters. An author by the name of Samir Kassir best described the influence that the SSNP had on the Nazis:
From Hitlerite Germany [Sa`adeh] borrowed the symbolism and rituals of the SSNP, based on the National Socialist model: the party’s emblem, a red vortex on a white ground framed in black that recreated the spiral motion of the swastika; the martial salute, arm outstretched; the cult of the leader (Za`im), though ‘Heil Hitler’ gave way to the impersonal exhortation “Tahya Surya” (Long Live Syria); and the paramilitary organization, supplemented by a glorification of violence.
Though it remains unknown if Rep. Gabbard actually knew what party Bassam and Elie Khawam associate with, it is alarming that a progressive Democrat met with President Al-Assad in a trip sponsored by Syrian Nazis.
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