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Hezbollah (حزب الله) a Look Into the History and Ideology of a Terrorist Group Turned Political Powerhouse

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HEZBOLLAH (حزب الله)

A LOOK INTO THE HISTORY AND IDEOLOGY

OF A TERRORIST GROUP TURNED POLITICAL POWERHOUSE

BY

DEAN M. KEMP
TERRORISM (ADJ 202)
DELAWARE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
BACKGROUND

Hezbollah is also known as: Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, Party of God, Revolutionary Justice Organization, and The Islamic Resistance. The name “Hezbollah” is Arabic, which translates to, “Party of God,” and whose name comes from a Koranic verse promising triumph to all those who join the Party of God. Shia clergymen founded Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in 1982, with the goal of driving Israel from Lebanon, and establishing an Islamic state there. Hezbollah closely coordinated its efforts with Iran, and quickly became an effective fighting force thanks to the training, weapons, and funding of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, who was operating in Lebanon at the time. Soon thereafter, Hezbollah began running training camps for not only its members, but for other terrorist organizations on how to conduct assassinations, kidnapping, suicide bombings, and guerilla warfare. In addition to Lebanon, Hezbollah’s security apparatus operates in parts of North and South America, Europe, East Asia, and other parts of the Middle East.

Hezbollah’s current goals include the establishment of a Shiite theocracy in Lebanon, the destruction of Israel, and the elimination of Western influences from the Middle East. Over the last twenty plus years, Hezbollah has not only professionalized its military capabilities but also joined Lebanon's political process and enmeshed itself into the social fabric of Lebanese society.

IDEOLOGY

The ideological framework of Hezbollah was religious and pan-Islamic, regarding Khomeini and his successors as the source of authority. It aimed at the establishment of an Islamic regime in Lebanon. As such it considered the Lebanese government as illegitimate and worked toward its overthrow in a revolutionary act.
Hezbollah’s Press Office made the following statement:

Hezbollah is an Islamic freedom fighting movement founded after the Israeli military seizure of Lebanon in 1982, which resulted in immediate formation of the Islamic resistance units for the liberation of the occupied territories and for the expulsion of the aggressive Israelis forces. In addition to shouldering the burden of resisting the Israelis occupation as it is stated by the international Bill of Human Rights, Hezbollah is also concerned about the presentation of Islam which addresses the mind, and reasons. Hezbollah is concerned about Presenting Islam that is confident of its fundamentals, its highly civilized understanding of Man, life and the universe, Islam as being self-assured about its capability to achieve the basis of right and justice. We are anxious to present Islam as being open hearted to all nations their various political and cultural trends and their numerous experiences, away from subjection or bewilderment. We are anxious to present Islam as being the guardian for human rights defining choices, adopting convictions and expressing them, socially. We opt for the formation of political pressure in education, pedagogy, medical case and other social benefits announced in the Bill of Human Rights. We are anxious to define the priorities for our cultural project that utilizes persuasiveness and polarization through the civilized and the human methods confirmed by the Bill of the Human Rights. Away from evidence force, and coercion. We are anxious to offer a model of performance in struggling targeting the enemy that represents a challenge for the existence of the whole nation along with its regimes and people. We also circumvent conflicts that do not serve the main aim, fighting the enemy, or that could create discord at the front, which is to be unified around the common interests. The hope is to rid of the pressuring threats pactised by the foreign Zionist entity, which has been thrust upon the Islamic, and the Arab contemporary nation. It should be clear that the kind of Islam we want is a civilized endeavor that rejects injustice, humiliation, slavery, subjugation, colonism and blackmail while we stretch out our arms for communication among nations on the basis of mutual respect. The Islam we mean is the religion that never accepts control or delegation by others for the sake of manipulating the rights and the interests of the nation. The Islam we mean is the religion that recommends communication among civilization and rejects devisive collision between those civilizations. An Islam that believes in cultural communication among nations and refuses setting up barriers and embargos and sees that it is our right to remove those barriers by the diplomatic means, however, when others intend to launch wars against it, Hezbollah finds it a natural right to defend itself representing the supporters the their achievements.
Islam that we understand is a message that aims at establishing justice, security, peace and rights for all people no matter what nation, race or religion they belong. We don't have any complex toward others, but we feel the responsibility toward them, to make them understand the essence of our religion away from obligation and fanaticism.
We don't seek the application of Islam by force or violence but by peaceful political action, which gives the opportunity for the majority in any society to adopt or reject it. If Islam becomes the choice of the majority then we will apply it, if not, we will continue to coexist and discuss till we reach correct beliefs.
We hereby affirm that our Islam rejects violence as a method to gain Power, and this should be the formula for the non-Islamists as well.

Hezbollah Press Office, March 20, 1998

OPERATIONS & TACTICS

Since its conception, there have been approximately 370 documented attacks portrayed by Hezbollah. The attacks have been mainly focused on the Lebanese government and military, and other terrorist groups operating in Lebanon. They have also been known to attack private citizens and property, especially in and around the borders of Israel. Hezbollah justifies their attacks by stating that Israel still occupies some of their territories, and that they are holding Lebanese citizens unjustly as prisoners. They also say that they are doing their country a public service when they attack other terrorist groups within Lebanon, as well as the citizens who support/sympathize these terrorist organizations. Below you will find a list of confirmed/suspected attacks by Hezbollah in the past ten years.

DATE | COUNTRY | CITY | FATALITIES | INJURIED | TARGET | ATTACK TYPE | 06-22-2008 | Lebanon | Tripoli | 4 | 35 | Government | Bombing/Armed Assault | 05-26-2008 | Lebanon | Beirut | 0 | 9 | Citizens/Terrorists | Armed Assault | 05-26-2008 | Lebanon | Beirut | 0 | 0 | Religious Institutions | Bombing | 05-12-2008 | Lebanon | Tripoli | 1 | 4 | Citizens/Terrorists | Armed Assault | 05-12-2008 | Lebanon | Shouifat | 0 | 0 | Government | Facility Attack (Arson) | 05-11-2008 | Lebanon | Atyat | 0 | 0 | Government | Armed Assault | 05-11-2008 | Lebanon | Aley | 0 | 0 | Terrorist | Hostage Taking | 05-09-2008 | Lebanon | Beirut | 0 | 0 | Journalists/Media | Facility Attack (Arson) | 05-09-2008 | Lebanon | Beirut | 0 | 0 | Military | Bombing | 05-09-2008 | Lebanon | Beirut | 11 | 30 | Citizens | Armed Assault | 05-07-2008 | Lebanon | Tripoli | 40 | 11 | Police/Citizens | Bombing | 08-06-2006 | Israel | Unknown | 12 | 10 | Military/Citizens | Bombing | 08-03-2006 | Lebanon | Rajmil | 6 | 0 | Military | Armed Assault | 08-03-2006 | Israel | Maalot | 6 | 0 | Citizens | Bombing | 08-03-2006 | Israel | Acre | 7 | 0 | Citizens | Bombing | 07-28-2006 | Israel | Afula | 0 | 0 | Citizens | Bombing | 07-27-2006 | Israel | Haifa | 0 | 10 | Business | Bombing | 07-24-2006 | Israel | Haifa | 2 | 15 | Citizens | Bombing | 07-14-2006 | Israel | Nahariya | 2 | Unknown | Citizens | Bombing | 01-17-2005 | Lebanon | Shebaa | 0 | 0 | Military | Armed Assault | 06-20-2004 | Israel | Shlomi | 0 | 0 | Military | Bombing | 06-08-2004 | Lebanon | Shab’a Farms | 0 | 0 | Business | Bombing | 01-19-2004 | Israel | Golan Heights | 2 | 1 | Military | Bombing | 08-10-2003 | Israel | Shlomi | 1 | 4 | Citizens | Bombing | 07-05-2003 | Israel | Kiryat Shmona | 0 | 0 | Citizens | Bombing |

As you can see from the data, Hezbollah has been “dormant” since 2008, and is purely concentrating on the political aspect of their mission. In other words, Hezbollah has not taken credit for any attacks since the one in Tripoli in 2008. After the end of Lebanon's 15-year civil war in the early 1990’s, Hezbollah joined the country's nascent democratic multi-confessional political process and the group currently enjoys widespread support among Lebanon's Shia population. As of August 2006, Hezbollah is a minority partner in the Lebanese Cabinet, with two serving ministers and a third endorsed by the group, and it holds 14 seats in Parliament. In November 2007, the group delayed Lebanese Parliament's selection of Lebanon's new president by boycotting the elections. Hezbollah has said it will only consider candidates who support the group's fight against Israel. Hezbollah's political wing also runs a variety of social programs in southern Lebanon and south Beirut that provide schooling, medical care, and welfare to Lebanese Shia. In addition, the group possesses its own radio station and satellite television station, al-Manar. Al-Manar serves as the primary propaganda engine for Hezbollah and broadcasts anti-Israel and anti-America propaganda to the Islamic world in multiple languages.

Due to its involvement in Lebanese politics and vast network of social services, there is considerable debate among the international community concerning whether Hezbollah should be classified as a terrorist organization. The U.S., Canada, Israel, and others classify Hezbollah strictly as a terrorist organization, which limits the group's ability to raise funds and travel internationally. However, countries like Australia and the United Kingdom distinguish between Hezbollah's security and political wings, and other countries like Russia do not consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Tensions arose in 2010 following reports that the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, had focused its investigation on senior Hezbollah officials and that it would soon issue indictments. Hassan Nasrallah condemned the tribunal as politically biased and compromised by forged evidence, and he called for the Lebanese government to stop cooperating with the investigation. The March 14 bloc continued to support the tribunal, resulting in a tense standoff. After attempts by Syria and Saudi Arabia to mediate between the two sides failed, Hezbollah forced the collapse of the unity government by withdrawing its two ministers and nine allied ministers from the cabinet. In January 2011 Najib Mikati, a Sunni billionaire, was nominated to be prime minister after receiving the backing of Hezbollah and its allies in parliament. Mikati’s appointment, a sign of Hezbollah’s increasing political strength, triggered protests by supporters of the March 14 bloc, who charged that the new government would be too closely aligned with Iran and Syria, Hezbollah’s principle supporters. In June 2011, after five months of deliberations, Mikati announced the formation of a new 30-member cabinet, with 18 of the posts filled by Hezbollah allies. No posts were assigned to members of the March 14 bloc.

In late June 2011 the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued arrest warrants for four suspects in the killing of Rafiq al-Hariri, who were identified by Lebanese officials as Hezbollah commanders and operatives. In response, Nasrallah denounced the tribunal and vowed never to turn over the four suspects.

OPINION STATEMENT
After reading from numerous sources about Hezbollah, I have mixed opinions of this group. The difficulty with forming an opinion about this group is that we here in the United States have not been subject to the same history and incidents that this country has, in the aspect that this started off as religious conflict/war centuries ago. Even though this group has only been in existence since the 1980’s, the conflict that they fight for has been around since the beginning of time. I agree with fighting to free your country and citizens from foreign or unjust reign, but Hezbollah utilizes radical and extreme measures to carry out their mission. I feel that for all the “good” that they may have done for their country and citizens, it all gets overlooked because of the radical actions of the group.
Hezbollah has established, and currently operates at least four hospitals, twelve clinics, twelve schools and two agricultural centers that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance program. Medical care is also cheaper than in most of the country’s private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members. Most of these institutions are located in the country’s more marginalized areas, such as Beirut’s southern suburbs, in South Lebanon, and in the Bekaa Valley. “We have special sections all over the country that provide financial and food assistance to the poor,” said Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Nabulsi. “We also run an emergency fund for instant care in case of immediate hospitalization.” I feel that all of this is wiped out and overlooked by one bombing, assassination, or other such violent attack that can be viewed as an act of terrorism.
Now, the argument can be made that they have established these social services as a way to not only strong arm the citizens, but as a means of effectively moving their money around without raising alarm. I can honestly say that if I lived in a country where over 1/3 of the population lives in “unsatisfactory” conditions and depends on the social services that have been established by this group, I could overlook some of their “questionable” actions. I do believe that they have established these social services for the betterment of the community; unfortunately, the conflict that exists with Israel prevents them from eliminating their security apparatus, which would make them even more favorable around the world, and could possibly earn them the title of revolutionists instead of terrorists.
What I do not agree with is this group having so many people in powerful government positions. As long as this group has an active seat in the parliament, people will always argue that they are controlling the county, and only operating with their interests in mind, and not that of the people. If this group is truly to succeed in transforming their country, they need to step away from the front line of the government, and simply be an influential group whose opinion is held in high regard by the officials and citizens.

I do feel that this group exists with a legitimate purpose, and caution should be given when labeling an incident “an act of terrorism”. We, the United States, are quick to label an organization a terrorist group, or their actions “acts of terrorism.”
This labeling is opinion based, and very subjective. We as a country have done some of the same things that lead to Hezbollah being labeled a terrorist organization, and continue to view our actions as “justifiable” because our actions were either in time of war, or to “liberate” a country from tyranny rule, but have never viewed our own actions as “acts of terrorism.” Just like any group that organizes for a cause, there are going to be radicals in the group. The actions of these few can soil the name of the entire group and what they stand for. Hezbollah is not a violent organization as stated in its purpose and ideology. I feel that if Hezbollah continues on its current track, they too, like so many before them, will be delisted as a terrorist organization.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alagha, Joseph E. The Shifts in Hezbollah’s Ideology: Religious Ideology, Political Ideology, and Political Program - 2006
Azani, Eitan. Hezbollah: The Story of the Party of God, From Revolution to Institutionalization - 2009
Encyclopedia Britannica, Hezbollah
Available on-line at: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/264741/Hezbollah Global Terrorism Database, Terror Incidents
Available on-line at: http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?perpetrator=407 Hezbollah. “Statement of purpose.” Retrieved from the Hezbollah Official Website. Available on-line at: http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/300/320/324/324.2/hizballah/statement01.html.
White, Jonathan R. Terrorism & Homeland Security 7th Edition - 2012…...

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...In the wake of the horrendous terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States Congress, under pressure from U.S. citizens to do more to protect the country from further attack, passed the Patriot Act on October 26, 2001. In effect, the act changed many U.S. laws concerning the legal authority of law enforcement entities and the lengths to which those entities could go to investigate potential terrorist activities. Another result of the act was to expand the definition of terrorism to include acts of domestic terrorism and or extremism. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) report “The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress, dated May 15, 2012, states that in “statutory terms, a domestic terrorist engages in terrorist activity that occurs in the homeland.” This definition appears quite broad; to add context, the CRS report further states that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) not only views domestic terrorism solely as an act carried out on U.S. soil, but acts that are carried out by groups or persons that “lack foreign direction.” Unlike the U.S. State Department’s public list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, “The federal government does not generate an official and public list of domestic terrorist organizations or individuals.” As explained by the CRS report, the creation of such a list could subject the federal government to lawsuits from groups and individuals claiming infringement of their civil rights. The......

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