Hezbollah -- A Profile of the Lebanese Militant group Hezbollah

Hezbollah: "Islamic Resistance in Lebanon".

Name:

Hezbollah (Party of God), also spelled Hizbollah and Hezbullah.
Hezbollah has also used the names Revolutionary Justice Organization and Organization for the Oppressed on Earth, Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Resistance for some operations.

Founded in:

Early 1980s

Home Base:

Lebanon. The group also has associates and cells in North and South America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

Backing & Affliliations:

Iran and Syria provide substantial organizational, training and financial support. Hezbollah has cooperated with and supported Palestinian groups, including Fatah/Tanzim, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Objectives:

Hizbollah had two goals when it was founded: removing the Israeli presence in South Lebanon that remained following its 1982 invasion, and establishing a Shi'a Islamic state in the image of the post-revolution Islamic state of Iran. Hezbollah later abandoned its goal of an Iranian-style Islamic state, and is now nationalist and Islamic in its political orientation.

Organization:

Hezbollah created its current leadership structure in 1988. It is governed by a consultative council (a translation of the Arabic Majlis Al-Shura) ,which is an Islamic form of governance highly focused on participation and consultation among members.

The original council had seven committees: ideological, financial, military, political, judicial, informational and social affairs. It later established a secondary, executive council and a politburo.

Political Activity:

Hezbollah joined the Lebanese political scene in 1992, winning eight seats in parliament, and in 2005 elections, they won fourteen seats as part of a coalition group.

Hezbollah is an integral and accepted Lebanese political element, although unlike other groups, they have not renounced violence as a political instrument.

Additional Activities:

Hezbollah provides social welfare services in South Lebanon, including organizing hospitals and schools. They maintain a charity fund for the families of suicide bombers. In 1991, it established Al Manar, Hezbollah's official television station.

In-Depth Sources:

  • Profile of Hezbollah's Political Leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah
  • Excerpt of speech by Hezbollah's Spiritual Leader, Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah
  • An introduction to Hezbollah in regional political context
  • An evaluation of Iran's relationship with Hezbollah in the wake of 9/11 and U.S. war on terror
  • Historical context:

    The militant Shia Muslim group Hezbollah emerged in a nascent form in the early 1970s, and grew in response to both Lebanese and regional factors. It gave political voice to Shia Muslims, were poor and politically marginalized by Lebanon's Christian and Sunni population. This political voice was encouraged to join politics with religion following the successful Shii Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. The relationship between Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinians was a third factor helping shape Hizbollah.

    Hizbollah's ties with both Syria and Iran began with the group's inception in 1982. In that year, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon to uproot the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership, which had established its base of operations there. Both Syria and Iran provided support to Hizbollah's anti-Israel activities, and Iranian members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, sent to Lebanon to fight, gave military training to the group's members.

    Hezbollah's designation as a terrorist group comes from its placement on the U.S. State Department list in the 1980s. In 1983, Hezbollah attacked a U.S. marine barracks in Beirut, killing over 250 Americans, and in 1984 it attacked the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, and they were likely involved in kidnapping Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s. The main thrust of Hezbollah's activity, however, is historically local, and aimed at the Israeli presence in southern Lebanon, and over disputed territory under Israeli control that Hezbollah (and Lebanon) consider to be Lebanese.

    Also See: Suicide Terrorism: Definitions, Theories, Groups