With the exception of Al Qaeda, no terrorist organization on earth is responsible for the deaths of more Americans than Hizballah: The group that drew first blood during its formative years when in 1983 one of its suicide bombers drove a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans.
Unlike Al Qaeda, however, Hizballah is more than simply a terror network or a loose confederation of terrorist cells: Hizballah is a state-funded terrorist army with a sophisticated propaganda arm and operational teams deployed worldwide. Not surprisingly, Hizballah is on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Yet some Western media — even a few American politicians — have openly defended Hizballah (as well as its parent company, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) as a legitimate force and political movement.
Last November, during a presidential campaign speech, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) said:
“In order to declare the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization — something we’ve never done before for a government-run militia — [Pres.] Bush was supported by the Senate. Many in our party opposed this vote, like Senator Dodd and Senator Biden, and I applaud them for that.”
Two months earlier in an interview on Hezbollah-owned Al Manar TV, former Sen. James Abourezk (D.-SD), long-time compatriot of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-SD), said:
“I actually marveled at the Hizballah resistance to Israel [during the 2006 war], … It was a marvel of organization, of courage and bravery. I thought it was quite something. … The Lebanese army should ask Hizballah to come and organize it, to train them, you know. And all the Arab armies should have the Hizballah come and do that.”
Hizballah (in Arabic, “Party of God”) is a Shiia military force based in Lebanon; trained, equipped, and heavily financed by Iran, specifically the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; and backed by Syria.
Born as of means of expanding Iran’s Islamic Revolution throughout the Middle East, Hizballah developed over the course of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) into an armed force and global terrorist enabler with tremendous political and media influence in Lebanon.
Hezballah calls itself a “resistance [against Israel]” — not a “militia” — which is nothing more than semantics. — Hizballah’s wordplay is a means by which it continues to exist — as an armed entity in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, which call for the disarming of all “militias” in Lebanon. In truth, Hizballah is neither resistance nor militia: it is a standing army with a growing base of operations and an expanding arsenal that includes military grade missiles, anti-aircraft and anti-armor weapons, all manner of small arms and explosives, even unmanned aerial vehicles for battlefield reconnaissance.
Hizballah also “relies” upon its corps of assassins, which its leaders deny, and suicide bombers, which they admit. “The weapon of martyrdom is the main and pivotal weapon on which we can rely,” writes Hizballah’s deputy secretary general Naim Qassem in “Hizballah: The Story from Within.”
These terrorists operate freely throughout much of Lebanon, beyond the authority of the legitimate army and police. And as more than one shoulder-shrugging Lebanese Army general (many still deferring to Damascus) has told me: “Hizballah was here first.”
Hizballah is also first in terms of violence. And that violence — actual and threatened — has factored heavily into the Lebanese parliament’s inability to elect a president over the past several months. Armed to the teeth, Hizballah maintains absolute control over a multi-block suburb of Beirut. They are actively training in the Bekaa Valley. They recently conducted military maneuvers in south Lebanon — ignoring a UN “peacekeeping” force — on ground where they fought a tough summer war with Israel in 2006.
Their expressed goal is nothing less than the destruction of Israel, the United States, and the West. “Our motto which we are not afraid to repeat year after year is ‘Death to America,’” said Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah in a 2005 speech.
Hizballah also has global reach, and dozens of Hizballah cells have been uncovered since 9/11 inside U.S. cities like Charlotte (N.C.), Detroit, and Los Angeles.
Like any effective wartime army, Hizballah has learned the importance of an ongoing disinformation campaign. In Lebanon, Hizballah is heavily involved in telecommunications, including control of at least one major telephone hub in Beirut which international calls pass through. Hizballah controls much of the media — print and broadcast — and they have infiltrated newsrooms, manipulated previously objective editorial desks, and bought Western correspondents based in that country. In fact, Hizballah’s media agents often marginally criticize Hizballah as a means of making themselves appear legitimate: “Trying to wash their faces,” as some Lebanese say.
Hizballah is at war with us. Lebanon is their base. As such, the country is a critical front in the war on terror. I’m not advocating a U.S. invasion of Lebanon, but neither can we afford to put our heads in the sand and hope Hizballah will dissipate. Hizballah is perhaps the world’s largest globally deployed terrorist army. Hizballah is powerful, sophisticated, committed, and growing. They are violent, deceiving us in the media, and their operators are already in the Americas.