Terrorism Profiles

Hizballah

Alternative Names:

Hizbullah, Hizbollah, Hezbollah, Hezballah, Hizbullah, The Party of God, Islamic Jihad (Islamic Holy War), Islamic Jihad Organization, Islamic Resistance, Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, Ansar al-Allah (Followers of God/Partisans of God/God’s Helpers), Ansarollah (Followers of God/Partisans of God/God’s Helpers), Ansar Allah (Followers of God/Partisans of God/God’s Helpers), Al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (Islamic Resistance), Organization of the Oppressed, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, Revolutionary Justice Organization, Organization of Right Against Wrong and Followers of the Prophet Muhammed.

Location:

Lebanon

Leadership:

Hizballah is run by a seven-member Shura Council. The Council oversees regional and functional committees that coordinate “ideology, finances, policy, as well as military, social, and legal affairs. Hizballah’s current leader and Secretary General is Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, a radical Shiite cleric. Nasrallah became the leader of Hizballah after Israeli Defense Forces assassinated the previous leader, Abbas al-Musawi, in 1992.

Pursuant to Israel’s withdrawal of military forces from Lebanon in 2000, the South Lebanon Army, which was supported by Israel, was quickly overrun by Hizballah. As such, Nasrallah is credited in Lebanon and the Arab world for ending Israel’s occupation of Southern Lebanon.

Membership:

Hizballah is thought to have several thousand members, with a few hundred possessing formal military training. Most members are Lebanese Shiites.

Funding Sources:

Hizballah has received funding and training from Iran through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as the Syrian government. This has enabled Hizballah to become one of the most prominent Shiite militant groups of its kind.

Hizballah maintains close ties to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and has sent fighters to support the Assad regime against rebel groups in the ongoing civil war. In doing so, Hizballah also seeks to prevent a Sunni government from gaining power in Syria.

The group also exploits a global fundraising network, especially in the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, and the United States. Much of its funding comes from private donations and profits from both legal businesses and front organizations.

Origins:

Hizballah emerged after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Major Attacks:

November 1982: Hizballah carried out a truck bombing against an Israeli headquarters in Tyre, killing 75 Israelis and 14 Arab prisoners.

April 1983: Hizballah detonated a suicide bomb at the US embassy in Beirut, killing 63.

October 1983: Hizballah carried out twin suicide bombings against French paratroopers and US Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American and 58 French servicemen. This prompted the US to withdraw all US Marines from Lebanon.

June 1985: Hizballah hijacked TWA Flight 847 from Cairo to Athens holding passengers hostage for weeks and killing one in order to free Lebanese prisoners in Israel. In exchange for the release of hostages, the Israeli government agreed to free 300 prisoners.

March 1992: Hizballah operatives carried out a truck bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 29 and wounding 242.

July 1994: Hizballah bombed the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association, which killed roughly 100 and wounded more than 200.

June 1996: Hizballah bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19.

July 2006: Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others, which prompted a one-month war with Israeli Defense Forces.

Ideological Roots:

Hizballah is a radical Shiite group ideologically inspired by the Iranian Revolution. The group espouses anti-western and ferociously anti-Semitic rhetoric. Specifically, Hizballah regards the international system as subject to influence by interests hostile to Islam and denies Israel’s right to exist.

Hizballah formed partly in response to the political underrepresentation and economic marginalization that many Shiites faced after Lebanon gained its independence in 1943.

Objectives:

Hizballah’s objectives are the liberation of Jerusalem, the annihilation of Israel, and the establishment of a radical Shiite Islamic state in Lebanon, modeled after the Iranian Revolution. In 1988, Nasrallah delivered a speech in which he claimed, “our [Hizballah] plan, to which we, as faithful believers, have no alternative, is to establish an Islamic state.”

Tactics:

Kidnapping, hijacking (commercial airliners), rocket and mortar attacks, firearm attacks, tunneling, suicide bombing, improvised explosive devices, and assassination.

More than simply a terrorist organization, Hizballah has integrated into Lebanese society and legitimates itself through the provision of social services, including infrastructure construction and health services, and by actively participating in the Lebanese political process.

Updated on January 13, 2016. 

References


  1. “Currently Listed Entities: Hizballah.” Public Safety Canada. Last modified November, 2014. Accessed December 17, 2015. http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2027
  2. “Mapping Militant Organizations: Hizballah.” Stanford University. Last modified April, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. https://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/81#note22
  3. Shibley Telhami. “Hezbollah’s Popularity Exposes al-Qaeda’s failure to Win the Hearts.” The Brookings Institute. Last modified July, 2006. Accessed December 17, 2015. http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2006/07/30middleeast-telhami
  4. “An Open Letter: The Hizballah Program.” Council on Foreign Relations. Last modified January, 1988. Accessed December 17, 2015. https://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/81#note22
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