New Zealand Mosque Shooter’s Motive Is ‘Understandable,’ Trump 2016 Foreign Policy Adviser Tells Fox News

Walid Phares later claimed his words were distorted by Iranian propaganda, but Phares also has alleged links to Lebanese group that committed a notorious massacre.

New Zealand mosque under police guard.
Phil Walters / Getty Images

Walid Phares later claimed his words were distorted by Iranian propaganda, but Phares also has alleged links to Lebanese group that committed a notorious massacre.

The morning after the horrific mass shootings at two Muslim mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand — a massacre that left 49 people dead, according to a CNN report — Fox News interviewed one of Donald Trump’s 2016 foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, who called the motives of the alleged killer “understandable… on a political level.”

The alleged mass shooter, named as 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, according to USA Today, posted a “manifesto” online which he titled The Great Replacement. In the manifesto, the author details his white supremacist ideology, railing against “immigrants” and their “fertility rate,” which he claims will lead to “genocide” against white people.

In the document, as Inquisitr reported, the author also praised Donald Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity,” and states that prominent Trump supporter Candace Owens was his greatest ideological inspiration.

In the Fox News interview, the 61-year-old Phares — a frequent guest on the cable news network — appeared to sympathize with the shooter’s “political” motives, while condemning the shooting as an “action.”

“It is very understandable what he is trying to do on a political level,” Phares told Fox News interviewer Bill Hemmer, as quoted by Talking Points Memo. “Obviously it’s horrific and it should be condemned completely on the action level.”

In 2016, Trump named Phares to his foreign policy advisory team, identifying him as a “counterterrorism” expert. But as The Washington Post pointed out, what Trump did not say publicly was that Phares “was once a leading ideologue in an armed Christian faction during Lebanon’s grim, bloody sectarian civil conflict of the 1980s.”

According to a 2011 Mother Jones investigative report, Phares “trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslim and Druze factions.”

The ideological training given to the militias by Phares was used as justification for numerous atrocities against Lebanese Muslims by the right-wing Christian militia fighters, according to Mother Jones. The most notorious such atrocity was the 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut, a slaughter which killed at least 700 people, and by some estimates as many as 3,500, according to a report by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

Phares on Friday claimed that his statements in the Fox News interview were distorted by Iranian-backed propaganda.

The Washington Post, in its 2016 report on Trump’s announcement of Phares as a foreign policy adviser, noted that while Phares was not directly implicated in any acts of violence, “he was a key thinker and actor in an environment of tremendous atrocity.”

Phares also served as a foreign policy adviser on Mitt Romney’s 2012 Republican presidential campaign, as Yahoo! News reported.