Some 30 years after it was founded and 26 after it released an “Open Message” from Beirut, Hizbollah remains a constant threat to Israel and an obstacle to peace efforts in the Middle East.
The terrorist group, formed with the backing of the Iranian Islamist revolutionaries the 1980s, began with the aim of pushing Israel out of Lebanon. But its 1985 manifesto also called for a continuous jihad until Israel was destroyed and for the creation of an Islamic republic in Lebanon.
Founded by figures including Hassan Nasrallah, the name translates as “party of God”. Hizbollah’s members come from the Shi’ite branch of Islam and the organisation has the backing – financial and in terms of weaponry - of many in Iran, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world.
In 1983 Hizbollah announced its presence to the world by killing 241 American servicemen in Beirut.
Indeed, although since 1992 Hizbollah has tried to cement power through elections in Lebanon and has built social networks within the Lebanese populations, like other terrorist groups in the region, its tactics have mostly included suicide bombings and kidnappings, not least the taking of two Israeli soldiers in July 2006 which triggered the Second Lebanon War.
Considered a terrorist group by Israel and the United States, experts expect Hizbollah will soon be implicated by a UN tribunal looking into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
What the JC said: Israel’s confrontation with Hizbollah is not just a fight against a ruthless terrorist organisation openly committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, nor even a war-by-proxy against the fanatic Islamist regime in Tehran, Hizbollah’s founder and patron, and its radical Syrian ally. It is a frontline battle in the global struggle to contain the most recent manifestation of the millenarian jihad for a universal Islamic empire...For Hizbollah is neither an ordinary political party or a national-liberation movement, nor a social-welfare organisation committed to the betterment of the lives of ordinary Muslims. It is not out of concern for a Palestinian right to national self-determination but as part of a holy war to prevent the loss of a part of the “House of Islam” that Hizbollah and like-minded Islamists inveigh against the Jewish state of Israel.
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