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Priest says US must recognise underlying causes of terrorism

A French priest with extensive experience in the Arab world warned that a US response to massive attacks should be tempered by a recognition of underlying causes of Islamic terrorism.

"Blaming it on fanatics is not the answer," said Fr Jean-Marie Benjamin, head of a humanitarian organisation to aid Iraqis suffering under a decade-long UN embargo.

The priest was reported widely in Italian media to have predicted the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington four days before they happened.

The attack using hijacked planes "was my personal deduction" and was not based on specific information, the priest told Catholic News Service. He said the long-term Western response must take into account the UN embargo on Iraq and ongoing bombings there by US and British warplanes, as well as the Palestinian feelings of injustice.