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Hannity

Do Terrorists Use Mosques as Weapons?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 26, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The U.S. extended the ceasefire in Fallujah, but it sure doesn't sound like a ceasefire to marines on the ground there.

U.S. Marines were pulled into a nasty firefight in Fallujah today, and a mosque was reportedly damaged by coalition forces. Firing on a mosque is prohibited under the Geneva Convention, unless you're acting in self- defense.

But coalition spokesperson Dan Senor says that mosques could be fair game because they're being used by the terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN SENOR, COALITION SPOKESMAN: Weapons must be removed from places of worship immediately. We will not tolerate it. If they are not removed immediately, further steps may have to be taken.

And those places of worship are not protected under the Geneva Conventions, in the event of military action if they are used as bases for operations and bases to store weapons and other tools of violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: And so do U.S. forces have the right to go after holy sites to protect themselves?

Joining us now is the assistant director of the Islamic Hasidic Foundation, Jafar Qazwini, who is Iraqi-American. And also founding member of Delta Force, Sergeant Major Eric Haney.

Major Haney, let me go to you and ask you about do we risk turning this into a perceived holy war if we indeed go into mosques and fight on that ground?

CMD. SGT. MAH. ERIC HANEY, DELTA FORCE FOUNDING MEMBER: Of course you do. Any time you touch that sort of thing, it's not a risk. You're making it a fact at that point.

Remember...

COLMES: Do we want that?

HANEY: No. Certainly we don't want that. Things are just in a terrible, tough shape in Iraq. There are very few good, easy answers. In fact, practically no good easy answers.

And remember, this is playing out on the television screens around the world and also in the Arab world.

COLMES: So what do we do?

HANEY: Well, there are a number of things that good tactical commanders can do, good smart commanders. You can cordon off these particular places, the neighborhood around the mosque.

If it is, indeed, being used as a combative center, you can cut off water and power. You can move the civilians out so that you don't have the likelihood of noncombatants being injured right in there.

And then you can use other types of weapons if you need to. But usually these things can be worked out by going slow, by being smart, not getting in a hurry and going to heavy weapons.

COLMES: Mr. Qazwini, doesn't that make sense to you?

JAFAR QAZWINI, ASSADNO FOUNDATION: I completely agree with Mr. Haney. In fact, I just imagine, in case of retaliation against mosques, which kind of uproar that is going to bring to the entire region.

I will highly expect that that would incite some sort of uprising in all parts of Iraq. So we try to do our best to avoid targeting mosques and hopefully, if we can bring a peaceful settlement to this, just by letting diplomacy and negotiation run their courses.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Eric, wait a minute. Let me see if I get this straight here, my friend. They're using mosques and they're firing on our troops, we don't immediately fire back?

HANEY: Unfortunately, we fire back, yes.

QAZWINI: Well -- Well, unfortunately, Fallujah has been a hotbed for insurgents. And...

HANNITY: Jafar, with all due respect, that was for Eric. Eric, obviously, I'm asking you. You're saying they fire at American troops, they're firing from a mosque, we shouldn't fire back?

Jafar, hang on one second. This is for Eric. Eric Haney, I'm asking you.

QAZWINI: Sorry. Sorry.

HANEY: When the troops are taken under fire, you have to determine exactly what your mission is. There are means of returning fire, but it's not just to return fire just to shoot back at something.

You return fire. You target specific individuals who are firing on you from that location. You can use your snipers, which is one of the greatest assets that any commander has in an urban operation, but you have to be smart in how you go about it.

HANNITY: What if they're firing big weapons, not just -- they're firing rocket launchers and weapons and they're seriously constituting a threat towards our troops.

We don't have -- this isn't an issue of questioning here. They're firing from a mosque at our troops, and they have significant build-up of weaponry there.

We don't really have any choice to sit here and wonder what the larger ramifications are going to be. These guys have got to defend themselves.

HANEY: The troops on the ground, along with their commanders, will determine how to do that. A man firing a rocket launcher at you is still a man. He can be killed by one bullet.

And you're smart in what you do in your tactics. You don't go in and level places. If they are firing, our troops are going to take the necessary means that they need to get that job done, to protect themselves and accomplish a mission.

HANNITY: All right. But if this is a tactic, you're supplying all the different communities with weapons and they have major weapons in there.

Jafar, I'm sorry, they have made this a military target, not the United States military. The people inside there.

QAZWINI: First of all, I'm not a military expert to give my opinion on how to advance and surround them. But what I am suggesting is that there should be some sort of negotiations between the two, some sort of peaceful...

HANNITY: How do you negotiate when they're firing at you?

QAZWINI: Well, that's what I was going to say at the beginning.

Unfortunately, Fallujah is the hotbed of the insurgents and Ba'athist remnants, and this has been -- it should have been taken care of a long time ago. The city has to be pacified a long time ago.

However, what I disagree with is, on the methodology of implementing our policies toward Fallujah.

COLMES: We thank you both.

QAZWINI: What I would suggest is that we should let the Iraqi officials like the governing council to take care of this.

COLMES: Thank you both very, very much for being with us tonight.

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