July 18th, 2008
09:00 AM ET

Murderer Turned hero

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/18/art.samir.kantar.jpg]

Octavia Nasr
Arab Affairs Editor

With pomp and circumstance Lebanon welcomed Samir Kuntar home... The man considered a symbol of evil in Israel, convicted of killing an Israeli father and bludgeoning to death the man's four-year-old daughter. The year was 1979; Kuntar was 16. He was sentenced to 542 years in prison.

In Lebanon today, he is hailed as a hero.

Speaking to a huge crowd on Wednesday, Kuntar said, “...I came from Palestine, only to return to Palestine.” Promising that he will be back along with his “brothers, the mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance.”

A reference to the Hezbollah militia who negotiated his release along with 4 others and the remains of nearly 200 of Arab and Lebanese militants.

The day was portrayed as a great victory in promotional videos leading up to the release and extensive minute-by-minute coverage that lasted throughout the day on Hezbollah's TV station Al-Manar - culminating in coverage of a massive celebration near the capital, Beirut.

Other local and regional TV stations treated the story with similar dedication. One station ran a dramatic video clip glorifying the first woman suicide bomber, Dalal al-Mughrabi, who perished in 1978 and whose remains were returned this day, causing more celebration.

Others highlighted street banners in English that read "Pain in Israel and Joy in Lebanon" and "Freedom guaranteed by Nassrallah... Humiliation guaranteed by Olmert." Comments aimed at twisting the knife in Israel's wound, making the point that the pain and defeat belong in Israel while joy and freedom reside in Lebanon..

Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • Octavia Nasr
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Mohammed Ali

    This is not good, how would an Isreali be welcomed back into the ground of Hizballah mainely the batteled ground. As said peace talk tempets to improve over the time left for President Bush. So what happened is a killer decison to put him back in the middle of this timeing. the news coverage i missed it.


    July 21, 2008 at 2:34 am |
  2. BYRON

    When Israel determines Obama will win the election they will take military action against Iran, Syria, or Lebanon (whichever is the biggest threat) as they cannot expect Obama's to support their future. American military will be relegated to supporting African countries in future years.

    July 20, 2008 at 2:23 am |
  3. Efi

    Most people don't seem to understand these ideological battles. These people don't see it morally just thesame way we don't seem to see the pain of poor iraqis who have been murdered wounded and lives destroyed because of a lie by the leaders of these country. The extreme right supported by some Christian leaders like Bibll Bright, Chuck Colson , Richard Land etc, encouraged Bush to launch and unjsutified war against an enemy that was not a threat, had not attacked us. These people see it thesame way many Americans see the iraq war. The don't care about th moral injsutice. These extremist have never really care about Jewish lives so long as they try to humiliate the Jews. We too have extremist on our side we are supposed to show the light to world, especially Christians but we found ourselves supporting a horrible war by Bush. Today we see that these guys had long had Iraq's oil behind their minds. What a shame that the example is not coming from this side!

    July 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  4. GregO

    It pains me to see that many of the pacifist who are against any type of war do not understand that we cant control what these radical Muslims do. Their value of human life is not like ours!! The only way to defeat gihad is to eliminate them from the face of the planet. This may not be a pleasing thought but it is the truth. And for all you liberals who want to vote for a 50% Muslim you're crazy, Obama's immigration policy will be weak just like his voting record in the Senate. We need a strong leader with American concerns first not a globalist who is more concerned about pleasing other nations, raising traxes, and speaking additional languages. This guy is a JOKE!

    July 19, 2008 at 10:45 am |
  5. Cindy

    @ Melissa, Los Angeles...I don't need to know the history. A killer is a killer no matter what! He killed 2 people one being a child. His nationality matched against theirs mean nothing. A hero he is not!


    July 18, 2008 at 6:52 pm |
  6. Jim

    Maybe we should let Israel wipe Hezbollah & those that wish to drive Israel into the sea off the face of the earth.
    If Hezbolla came to America & did that to Americans you know that
    the next day all that would be left of Hezbollah would be buzzard food.
    I marvel at Israels patience with their enemies.

    July 18, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  7. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    The trade off should have been about the remains of the two Israeli soldiers for the two hundred militants' remains!! PERIOD!!
    Shameful and shows the lunacy of the leadership on both sides!!

    July 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  8. Alex

    If that cold blooded killer is a hero to the people of Lebanon, I would hate to see the guy who they consider a cold blooded killer. I was not thrilled by the indiscriminate bombing conducted by the Israelis during the their recent war in which countless innocent women and children were killed because their locations were also inhabited by the enemy. But the Lebanonese and Hezbollah has shown they too kill innocent people WILLFULLY. So the next time Israel bombs Lebanon, they should use saturation bombing especially if Mr. Kuntar's location has been identified and verified. That's one useless individual who deserves to be bombed clear back into the dark ages.

    July 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  9. Abou Brandon, Washington DC

    What a travesty! As a very proud Lebanese, to see a murderer and a terrorist like Samir Kuntar being received by the Lebanese President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the House is nothing short of shameful moment in our history.
    To see that Hezbollah triggered a war in 2006 that cost Lebanon many lives and billions of dollars just so that they could have a “leverage” to use for the release of these murderers is simply insane.
    The so called leaders of Lebanon should be ashamed of this. By receiving murderers that kill children, as heroes make us all look like terrorists. We are not terrorists. We simply have corrupt and weak leaders whose allegiances whose allegiances have always been for their the neighboring countries and not Lebanon.

    July 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  10. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    We are reminded again how other countries and people view life and death. Very much different than our own views. Also opens our eyes alittle how possibly in Iraq and Afghanistan their views may be very different than our own. In countries with the horror of death all around them on a daily basis they become numb to it...........and so it goes on and on...............

    July 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  11. Mike in NYC

    Minou, New York City wrote:

    "That certainly won’t elicit sympathy for the Arab cause. It only makes the world sympathize with Israel."

    I wouldn't rush to that conclusion. Most of the world does not sympathize with them, and I see no sign of that changing.

    The killing, wounding, and abuse of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli soldiers hasn't helped either.

    July 18, 2008 at 1:30 pm |
  12. Susan


    Making a " hero " out of an individual who has committed murder, advances the cause of no one.


    July 18, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  13. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Cindy learn the history between Israel and Lebanon and you'll understand why he's considered a hero. He didn't just kill a man and a child – he killed Israeli's.

    July 18, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  14. Maritza

    Why has no one in the media reported on how the two Israeli soldiers died? When did they die ? they were held for years at what point were their lives taken? were they tortured before they died , no justice for the families.


    July 18, 2008 at 12:39 pm |
  15. M. Thomas Howard

    The guy smashed the head of a defenseless four year old with the butt of his rifle on rocks. I don't think there is much debate to be had here.

    July 18, 2008 at 11:57 am |
  16. Scott, NYC

    Had he committed these atrocities in Lebanon, he would have been executed. But because he crossed the border and did these horrifically criminal acts, he is now called a hero by terrorists and their supporters. It's amazing how sick and depraved some people can be. Next thing you know, Hezbollah will unleash all of Lebanon's worst criminals into Israel and let them wreak havoc, only to return as heros, not prisoners.

    July 18, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  17. Dean Schindler

    Words can simply not begin to describe how I feel about this horrific injustice! Not only did this man murder another human being, but he also murdered an innocent 4 year old who had not had a chance to decide faith, religeon, or what causes were important. It is unfortunate that the Lebonese politicians think of this as a heroic victory, and not the fact that this man will do nothing but become a murdered many times over in the very near future!

    July 18, 2008 at 11:37 am |
  18. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Israel will trade criminals for corpses. Where is the logic in that? They won't negotiate with terrorists though!? (no money for live hostages but criminals for war dead) What a precedent!
    The Israeli soldiers are college kids who have no choice but to join and now they don't have that blanket of protection.
    Then there is the splurge in Iraq, paying the enemy to stop shooting. Is any of that money going to Pakistan? Is it being used to fund a terror attacks in other parts of the world? They DONT fill out income tax forms! Was the deal to pay them for 100 years?

    July 18, 2008 at 11:12 am |
  19. Minou, New York City

    The bad thing is, that not only Hezbollah supporters welcomed these murderers, but that Lebanese high profile politicians welcomed these men as heroes as well.
    That certainly won't elicit sympathy for the Arab cause. It only makes the world sympathize with Israel. So can Hezbollah celebrate a victory here? Hardly!

    July 18, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  20. Cindy

    How can someone that killed two people and a baby at that be a hero!? That to me is just ridiculous! To celebrate the release of prisoners of war is one thing but to celebrate people who kill others for no reason at all is just ludicrous!


    July 18, 2008 at 9:41 am |