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CAIR Leader Apologizes for Tweet Celebrating Russian Jet Crash

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has apologized for a tweet he sent out — and subsequently deleted —  where he said that he wished more people had died on board the deadly Russian military jet crash that claimed 92 lives on its way to Syria on Christmas Day.

CAIR has been declared a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates and was named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-funding operation.

Ayloush, who is the son of Syrian parents, had tweeted: “I’m sad about the crashed Russian military jet. The Tu-154 could have carried up to 180 military personnel instead of just 92!”

He issued an apology on Facebook the next day:

In an interview with the Orange County Register on Tuesday, Ayloush said he deeply regrets the tweet. “I sent it out when I was filling gas on my road trip with my family,” he reportedly said. “All I saw was a Russian military plane went down before it made it to Syria. To me, that’s like hearing a couple of World War II Japanese planes went down before they got to Pearl Harbor for the bombing.”

He reportedly added, “[i]n the back of my mind, every terrorist or foreign fighter who doesn’t make it to Syria means innocent lives that are saved. Whether they are Russian, Iranian or ISIS, they’re all the same to me. No one knows what it feels like to be a Syrian today unless they are Syrian.”

Ayloush reportedly still has family in Syria.

There were reportedly dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and orchestra members on board the Tu-154 Russian defense plane that crashed into the Black Sea. All 92 people on board died.

The tweet resulted in backlash over social media with some even calling for Ayloush’s resignation. The OC Register notes that Ayloush has no plans to resign from his post.

Last year, Ayloush said the United States was “partially” responsible for the terrorist massacre in San Bernardino, California, which left 14 dead and dozens wounded during a holiday party. Speaking with CNN, he said, “let’s not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, have fueled that extremism.”

The Orange County Register has named Ayloush as one of the O.C.’s “100 most influential” people.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.

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