Terrorism: National Security Policy and the Home Front

By Stephen C. Pelletiere | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

HIZBOLLAH:
NARROWING OPTIONS IN LEBANON 1

Kenneth Katzman


Introduction.

Hizbollah is under pressure. One of the keys to its survival thus far has been the alliance between its two outside patrons, Iran and Syria. Its primary patron, Iran, opposes an Arab- Israeli peace settlement. Syria, on the other hand, is moving toward peace with Israel, a peace that will likely include guarantees that Hizbollah be subject to significant constraints. As a result, Hizbollah is seeking to play a larger role in the legitimate Lebanese political process to hedge its bets against what Hizbollah may see as likely further limitations on its regional influence in a future peace agreement between Israel and Syria and Lebanon. Meanwhile, Hizbollah hardliners do not accept change in the Middle East and they are increasingly resorting to international terrorism against Israeli and Jewish targets to try to avenge Israeli attacks and to derail the peace process. Hizbollah also appears to believe that the buildup of its terrorist cells overseas might enable the military wing of the organization to survive offshore in case the militia is dismantled in Lebanon as part of an Israeli/Syrian/Lebanese peace settlement. 2

Hizbollah's tactics and strategies are evolving, but it is still remembered for spectacular acts of terrorism against the United States and the West during the 1980s. In its annual report on international terrorism for 1993, the State Department describes Hizbollah as a “radical Shia Muslim group formed in Lebanon, dedicated to the creation of an Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon and removal of all non-Islamic influences from [the] area. [It is] strongly anti-West and anti-Israel [and] closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran.” 3 The report adds that Hizbollah is “known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-U.S. terrorist attacks, including the suicide bombings of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut (April and October 1983, respectively) and the U.S. Embassy annex in September 1984. The group also hijacked TWA Flight 847 in 1985. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of most, if not all, U.S. and other Western hostages in Lebanon. Islamic Jihad [another name used by Hizbollah elements] publicly claimed responsibility for the car-bombing of Israel's Embassy in Buenos Aires in March 1992, 4 and it is believed responsible for bombings of Israeli and Jewish installations in Buenos Aires and London in July 1994. In part to mask its responsibility for certain actions, Hizbollah elements sometimes act under a variety of names, possibly corresponding to different cells or clans within the organization, including: Islamic Jihad, Revolutionary Justice Organization, Organization of the Oppressed

-5-

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