Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hizbullah and the Iranian connection

John R. Cassady, LTC U.S.Army, Ret.

The Muslim extremist President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." More recently he said, "We say that this fake regime (Israel) cannot logically continue to live." His comments have drawn widespread condemnation from civilized nations in the world community. Increasing the level of alarm over his outrageous comments is the fact that his radical government is gaining speed in their pursuit of the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Clearly Iran under the radical Ahmadinejad rule fits the classic definition of a terrorist state. They extensively promote, export and support terrorism in the world. His comments about destroying Israel are, in fact, policy among many Mideastern terrorist organizations. They differ in approaches, but nearly all Muslim extremist terrorist organizations (including alQueda) agree that the removal of Israel is the first step in the global Jihad of Islamic Imperialism. Indeed, some international scholars have named Iran a key player in what they call the new "Axis of Islam" growing in the Middle East. They see a sinister force by the uniting of Hizbullah, Iran, Syria, Hammas, the Muslim Brotherhood, elements of Iraquis Shiites and others in an anti-Israel, anti-American alliance backed by Russia.

The Lebanon based terrorist organization known as Hizbullah is an Islamist Shiite group inspired by the Iranian revolution of 1979 and formed soon after. Hizbullah is Arabic for Party of God. It's also known as the Islamic Jihad, Revolutionary Justice Organization, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine. Hizbullah's long range goal is the extension of radical Shiite Islamist ideologies worldwide. Their shorter range objectives are the expulsion of western and Israeli influence and the establishment of an Islamist state in Lebanon patterned after the Iranian Islamic Republic, the destruction of Israel, and the capture and rule of Jerusalem. Hizbullah leaders view the United States as their real enemy. A noteworthy aspect of their ideology is their openness to cooperation with Sunni and other Islamist groups. Study reveals their connections with other terrorist groups include; al-Queda, Hammas, the P.L.O., Fatah, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to name a few. Like al-Queda, Hizbullah's reach is worldwide, extending from the Mid-east to Central and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. In North America Hizbullah operated and raised funds from Canada until 2002 when Canada finally outlawed them. In the same year two operatives were arrested in North Carolina and convicted of providing material support to a terrorist group. There have been unconfirmed reports of a Hizbullah sleeper cell in Texas preparing to target the U.S. oil industry. The Iranian connection to Hizbullah is especially important since Hizbullah is based in a country bordering Israel. Current estimates indicate Iran provides them more than $100 million annually underwriting social services and military equipment and supplies.

Of all Iranian attempts to export their Islamic revolution, Hizbullah is the most successful. This effectively gives Iran an operational arm bordering their declared enemy Israel. Many of Hizbullah's terrorist operations are conducted in close coordination with Tehran. Another terrorist supporting geographical partner with Hizbullah is Syria. Their relationship is complex and although officially secular, Syria helped the founding of Hizbullah. Syria's aim was to protect their control over Lebanon at that time. Syria supported Hizbullah's undertaking of international terrorist activities in its war against Israel. Massive shipments of weapons were transferred from Iran to Lebanon via Damascus, Syria. The current president of Syria is much closer to the leadership of Hizbullah than was his father.

Hizbullah pioneered many terrorist tactics, including suicide bombing and simultaneous truck or car bombings. They've also developed expertise in building effective explosive devices. Since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, Hizbullah has received

enormous amounts of weaponry from Iran. Sophisticated antiaircraft and anti-tank missiles along with over 10,000 medium and long range rockets that place more than a third of Israel within their striking range, have been delivered. It's certainly not much of a stretch to believe that Iran's President Ahmadinejad would like to deliver nuclear weapons to his proxy on Israel's border.

An example of the danger presented by Hizbullah can be learned by looking at their terrorist activities over 20 years.

In the two decades between 1983 and 2003 approximately 64 incidents of terrorism were generated by that terrorist organization. These incidents included but were not limited to kidnappings, assassinations, torture, suicide bombings and other mayhem resulting in about 795 people killed and more than 1407 wounded, maimed or otherwise injured. The targets of the terrorists included both military and civilian personnel world wide. Many of the events were directed at Israel and their citizens, but other nationalities, including U.S. citizens, were also targeted. The most infamous terrorist attack directed at the United States by elements of Hizbullah was the suicide truck bombing of the U.S. Marine Headquarters and barracks of the Peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. That suicide attack resulted in the deaths of 241 young Marines and many others injured. A nearby French base was also attacked resulting in the deaths of at least 56 French soldiers, while the exact number of French injured is unknown. Like al-Queda and Hammas, Hizbullah is a radical and lethal terrorist organization based on its own despicable merits. However, when you combine them with the current Iranian government and others, their lethality and capability for mass murder and mayhem increases exponentially as the threat to western civilization increases.