NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah (pictured above, right) is backing Syrian President Assad's (pictured above, left) forces.

Issue Profile: Hezbollah

Hezbollah is one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, maintaining a global reach from its base in Lebanon. To prop up its longtime Syrian sponsors and serve the interests of its Iranian patrons, Hezbollah has entered the Syrian civil war on the side of President Bashar Assad. Below is a profile of the Iranian-backed group.

Profile

Hezbollah is a Shia Muslim terrorist organization, created in the early 1980’s under the financial and military support of Iran. Originally the group’s goal was to establish the Islamic revolution in Lebanon, where it is based. However, its focus quickly turned to “resistance” to Israel’s presence in Lebanon, in response to which Hezbollah launched open terrorism against Israel and the West. Israeli forces left Lebanon in May 2000, but Hezbollah’s goals have not changed. They remain committed to the destruction of Israel and undermining Western interests.

Hezbollah is currently led by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, a devout student and follower of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under Nasrallah’s leadership, Hezbollah has become the region’s leading terrorist organization, responsible for more American deaths than any other terror group except Al-Qaeda.

Since 2006, Hezbollah has dramatically upgraded the range and lethality of its weapons stockpiles and is now an elite fighting force of battle-hardened veterans estimated between five and ten thousand, with perhaps thousands more in supporting roles. Both Iran and Syria are responsible for providing Hezbollah with its arsenal of some 60,000 missiles and rockets that are pointed at Israel.

Hezbollah cells exist globally andengage in financial racketeering, drug running, and arms smuggling to generate profits that support the group’s terrorist activities.

Hezbollah has been responsible for a long series of terrorist attacks and sustained military campaigns since its creation, including:

• In the 1980’s, numerous abductions and assassinations of Westerners, including U.S. citizens in Lebanon

• The 1983 truck bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that left 241 U.S. servicemen dead

• The 1983 truck bombing of the French military barracks in Lebanon, killing 58 French paratroopers and 6 civilians

• The 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, in which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered

• The suicide bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, in which 29 people were killed

• The suicide bombing of the Jewish center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people

• The 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, which also killed 21 others

• A 2006 raid into Israel, in which two IDF soldiers were abducted and killed, precipitating Israel’s war against Hezbollah.

• The 2012 Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria, where 6 people were killed and 32 others injured

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