Thursday, November 03, 2005

Beirut remembered in Al Anbar Province

Submitted by: II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by: Computed Name: Cpl. Evan M. Eagan

Story Identification #: 200511234758

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(Nov. 2, 2005) -- More than 22 years ago the United States government agreed to establish a peacekeeping presence in Beirut, Lebanon to help quell a conflict between Muslim and Christian factions in the country.

In early 1983 Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, deployed to Beirut to support the mission.

During the early morning hours of Oct., 23, 1983, having spent nearly six months in country, disaster struck.

At approximately 6:22 a.m., 241 service members [220 Marines, 18 Sailors and three Soldiers] lost their lives in a matter of seconds when a suicide bomber driving a truck carrying the equivalent of 12,000 pounds of dynamite breached Marine security and crashed into the main lobby of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines Battalion Landing Team headquarters building at Beirut International Airport.

Today, two service members serving in Iraq, who were in Beirut at the time of the attack, look back on the tragic day.

“At first I thought we had taken a direct hit,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Darrell Gibson, senior enlisted advisor, Regimental Aid Station, Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, who was at the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, headquarters in a library about a mile away from the blast. “They were firing rockets at us pretty regularly. It was a pretty good sized explosion and then we could see the mushroom cloud. Then we realized it was something more.”

Captain Kyle O’Malley, officer-in-charge, Regional Detention Facility Al Asad, 5th Battalion, 14th Marines Military Police Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD), was a corporal with 2nd Radio Battalion during the attack.

“I was working out of a position approximately 12 miles up the road in the mountains overlooking the city of Beirut in a place called Yarze at the foothills of the Shouf Mountains,” he said. “The blast shook the building we were in and I bolted up from my rack. There were some hills blocking our view of the headquarters building, but very quickly the mushroom cloud of dust and debris rose well above the airport and foothills in front of us.”

According to Gibson, after the attack the Marines were preparing for a possible follow on attack, and manned their positions.

“We got word from the ship to stay in place,” said Gibson, who was a petty officer 3rd class at the time. “Everyone was on their toes, locked in their positions. We were told that we might get hit next.”

Another attack did occur minutes later, however, not on a Marine position.

“While we were observing the headquarters and making radio calls to our elements at the headquarters area and other remote areas, we actually watched the French headquarters blow up five minutes after our [1st Battalion, 8th Marines Battalion Landing Team] was hit,” said O’Malley, a Le Center, Minn., native. “This was in our clear view.”

After the attack, Gibson and O’Malley assisted in the recovery and extraction efforts.

“The next day [Alpha Company] went to assist the BLT,” said Gibson. “There was about 4-6 days of extraction to move people out of the rubble. There were just so many people buried alive while they were sleeping. It was hard.”

O’Malley was part of the final clearing stage and helped secure any classified material during the debris removal-- a job he was assigned to because of his security clearance.

Twenty-two years later both men say it is still hard to look back on their time in Beirut.

“We trained together, ate together, lived together and got to know each other whether we liked it or not,” said Gibson. “I knew a lot of Marines that were [at the BLT Headquarters] that day. The 8th Marines were special.”

“What are my thoughts 22 years later?” asked O’Malley. “That all those Marines never had the chances we have to get married, have kids and follow our roads in life. As someone else said of these things—it is okay to look back once in a while, just don’t stare.”

Hezbollah accuses U.S. and Israel of manipulating UN reports to stir regional and internal strife

Hezbollah accuses U.S. and Israel of manipulating UN reports to stir regional and internal strife
the report is full of poisonous incitement aimed at ruining relations'

By adenine El-Ghoul
Daily Star staff
Saturday, October 29, 2005

BEIRUT: Hezbollah accused Washington and Israel on Friday of manipulating UN reports to stir internal strife in Lebanon and Syria, while defending Syria and the search for truth and justice by the family of the late Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. The party's Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah lashed out at UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen's recently released second report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, saying, "The report is full of poisonous incitement aimed at ruining the relations between the various Lebanese factions."

Nasrallah was speaking in Beirut's southern suburbs during a massive rally held to mark Jerusalem Day, an honorary holiday created by the late Ayatollah Khomeini to call for the liberation of Palestine.

The sheikh alleged that Larsen's report falsely claimed that the government was committed to implementing Resolution 1559, stressing that the report was full of such lies and was meant to incite the Lebanese people against the Palestinians and Syrians, as well as pit the Lebanese against each other.

"When officials talk to us about their policies, they tell us exactly what they state in their ministerial statement; they are not with 1559, and the Cabinet confirmed this stance in its latest session," he said.

"However, the report claims the officials told Larsen in private just the opposite," he added. "Larsen wants to plant the seeds of suspicions and cause trouble."

Nasrallah further questioned how the report "was leaked to the Israeli press before it was presented to Kofi Annan and the international community."

Commenting on Nasrallah's speech, Annan's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said "Larsen's report is fully at the discretion of UN Security Council members ... We don't want to comment until they discuss Larsen's report on Monday."

Nasrallah criticized the UN report for "justifying all of Israeli border violations" while admonishing the resistance group for responding to violations.

"Larsen's report, just like other similar reports, indicates that the international community is not concerned with protecting the interests of the Palestinians, Lebanese or Arabs in general," he said. "They only serve Israeli and American schemes currently targeting Syria, Lebanon and Palestine."

He continued: "The report includes all the details regarding Lebanese affairs, even those unrelated to his specified mission, but it only mentioned Israel in two lines."

Nasrallah also had criticism for a report released last week by the head of the UN investigation into Hariri's assassination, Detlev Mehlis, from whom he said he had expected "a professional report."

The cleric slammed the report for being composed of "vague phrases that do not even lead to definite conclusions or findings."

"Still," he added, "the United States is using the investigation, which has not yet finished, as an instrument to demand sanctions against Syria."

Damascus has pledged to cooperate with the probe, but criticized its findings as politically biased. Mehlis named several Syrian and Lebanese officials involved in the murder.

Nasrallah commended a statement from Beirut MP Saad Hariri last week which stressed the family would not accept the use of the late premier's death as a political weapon against other countries or parties.

However, Nasrallah called on the family to "object strongly" to the American efforts to wrap up the investigation quickly and accuse Syria.

He also blasted the UN for leaking that a key suspect identified in the report only as "Mr. X" was a key Shiite figure, believing the release was meant to stir sectarian tensions.

"Mehlis was aiming at stirring sectarian problems between the Sunni and the Shiites," he said. "Our response will be to remain as united as we have been so far; unity is the only means to defuse all schemes that aim at spreading

anarchy, war and destruction in our countries."

Huge crowds turned out for the annual rally, waving Hizbullah's yellow and green party flags and red, white and green Lebanese flags as an elaborate military parade wound through the streets. More than 60 unarmed battalion formations dressed in military uniforms paraded past the party's cheering supporters.

Hezbollah-owned Manar television aired a live broadcast of the events, listing the number of those in attendance at half a million.

Smaller similar rallies were held in Tyre in the South and Baalbek in the Bekaa.

Iran marked Jerusalem Day with massive rallies attended by tens of thousands as Iranians shrugged off worldwide condemnation of their president's call on Wednesday for the Jewish state to be wiped "off the map."

Without making explicit reference to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comments, Nasrallah defended Iran, saying the Islamic Republic "is facing numerous difficulties because of its ideological positions on the Israeli-Arab conflict."

Nasrallah appealed for "an urgent meeting of the Arab League" to "intervene quickly and propose an initiative about the [UN] report and Lebanese-Syrian relations and pressure against Syria."

It seems that the World might be forgetting Sryia's role in the assassination plot; certainly we know, that the UN moves slowly on matters relating to Hezbollah.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Just so we are clear on the Status of Hezbollah

Hezbollah (Arabic ‮حزب الله‬, meaning Party of God) is regarded by the Arab and Muslim world, and by some European Union countries, as a legitimate, militant, Shia political party in Lebanon, and by the Israeli government and several Western governments as an Islamic fundamentalist, or Islamist, terrorist organization.

The organization was conceived in 1982 as a guerrilla group, started by Lebanese clerics and financed by Iran, to oppose the 1982 Israeli invasion and subsequent occupation of southern Lebanon. The group's critics believe it was set up by Iran solely to spread the Iranian Islamic revolution into Lebanon and throughout the Arab world. It maintains an active fighting force, or militia, known as the Islamic Resistance. Since the May 2000 Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah has continued fighting the Israeli Defense Forces around the disputed, Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area. Although the United Nations regards Shebaa Farms as Syrian territory, Hezbollah considers the area a part of Lebanon. Syrian officals have orally declared that Shebaa Farms are part of Lebanon. The Shebaa farms were taken by Israel from Syria during the 1967 war. Syria was asked to notify the UN that it considered the Shebaa farmsto be part of Lebanon but no offical statement was ever sent. This has lead most specialists to think that Hezbollah?s attempt to recapture the area was a Syrian-backed pretext to keep Israel under military pressure.

In addition to its military wing, Hezbollah maintains a civilian arm, which runs hospitals, schools, orphanages and a television station. Hezbollah currently holds eight seats in the 128-member Lebanese Parliament and is primarily active in the Bekaa Valley, the southern suburbs of Beirut, and southern Lebanon. The group is headed by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and is financed largely by Iran and Syria, though it also raises funds itself through charities and commercial activities.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has called Hezbollah the "A-team" of terrorism and Al Qaeda the "B-team." [1] ( Supporters of the group regard this kind of statement as anti-Arab propaganda.

Well, Well, of course they would!

" They are funded through charities and commercial activities", hmm, this is interesting. Recently a faction of this group was found guilty in federal court and now are in prison, although appeals are being processed as we speak.