M. Zuhdi Jasser speaks with Prince William Times, Jonathan Hunley

Prince William state senator defends Syria–again–in the wake of poison-gas attack

Sen. Dick Black says U.S. retaliation would be ‘wrong’

  • Jonathan Hunley Staff Writer

State Sen. Dick Black, who met with officials with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in 2016, said Monday he believes Assad’s regime wasn’t behind a weekend poison gas attack and that the United States shouldn’t retaliate.

Black, a Republican whose 13th District includes parts of Prince William and Loudoun counties, said he thinks the attack, which The Associated Press reported left at least 40 people dead, including children, was instead carried out by a group called the “White Helmets” in coordination with a Syrian rebel organization called Jaish al-Islam.

The White Helmets claim to be “unarmed and neutral rescue workers” on their website, but Black said they’re closely aligned with al-Qaida and that Syria is trying to fight terrorists within its borders.

Black also said the U.S. shouldn’t believe information that comes from the White Helmets.

Black, known as perhaps the Virginia General Assembly’s most conservative member, has long been known for his controversial views on Syria and his past support for Assad, who Black has praised for helping persecuted Christians.

In the wake of the Saturday attack, Black again came to Syria’s defense, saying everyone assumes that Syria is to blame after a chemical attack. But, he asked, if the country’s forces are using toxic gas, why don’t they ever use it against military enemies?

Multiple news outlets reported that President Donald Trump is weighing a response to what he called a “heinous attack” Saturday, and one possibility seemed to be that that response would hit Syria.

But that would be wrong, Black said.

“I am absolutely against what is about to be done,” he said.

Black said no one ever mentions the actions of those whom Assad fights, and that the Jaish al-Islam is famous for putting women in steel cages and using them as human shields. The “very vile group” also has targeted schools, he said.

Black said the fastest way to peace in Syria would be for the United States to withdraw its forces from the nation and leave the Syrians alone.

His stances on Syria seem unusual to some, but Black said no one talks widely about the people the nation’s government is fighting in its civil war.

“It’s like there’s one side in the war,” he said.

And Jasser was aghast that Black would say the White Helmets, whom he said are largely doing “God’s work” in humanitarian efforts, would be involved with such an attack.

“So, I think Mr. Black should be ashamed of himself,” Jasser said. “He is un-American.”

Jasser said Black isn’t paying attention to decades of massacres in Syria and that it’s as if he’s listening only to propaganda from Assad, Iran and Russia.

Black should go to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and see how some turned a blind eye to crimes against humanity in that era, Jasser said.

“He’s doing the exact same thing now,” Jasser said.

The mission of Jasser’s organization is to “advocate for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state,” according to its website.