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August 11, 1989 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Hezbollah:The Epitome
Of Islamic Fanaticism

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n seven short years, the
Hezbollah has gained
international notoriety
through a series of what
Western countries have
described as barbarous and
outrageous acts.
The extremist, Lebanese-
based Shi'ite organization
has become the epitome of
Islamic fundamentalist
fanaticism. The name Hez-
bollah — Party of God — is
synonymous with kidnapp-
ings, suicide attacks, and acts
of terrorism, all purportedly
perpetrated in the name of
Allah.
"The Hezbollah operates on
the basis of cells, which often
operate independently under
a very loose central organiza-
tion," a veteran Lebanese
commentator said. "The use
of cover names for individual
cells — such as "The Oppress-
ed of the Earth" or "The
Revolutionary Justice
Organization" — is an in-
genious method for hiding the
identity of those involved and
ensuring that the name Hez-
bollah is not directly
associated to any particular
act.
"This enables the Hez-
bollah to maintain its
elusiveness, which is a form of
self-protection and, of course,
makes negotiations extreme-
ly difficult," said the commen-
tator. "Another difficulty in
terms of trying to negotiate
for the release of hostages is
the character and nature of
Hezbollah loyalists, who are
imbued with the Islamic [Ira-
nian] revolutionary perspec-
tive."
The organization was
established in 1982, following
Israel's invasion of Lebanon.
The continued presence of
Israeli troops on Lebanese
soil was anathema to the
Shi'ite community in general
and Moslem fanatics in
particular.
The leaders of the move-
ment at that time were
Sheiks Abas Musawhe, Subhi
Tufyli and Ragheb Harb, then
head ofJibchit village, whose
mantle was to be inherited by
the Iranian-educated and
trained Sheik Abdul Karim
Obeid.
Nationalist and religious
sentiments coincided with the
arrival of Iranian Revolu-
tionary Guards in Lebanon,
ostensibly to help drive
Israeli troops from Lebanese
soil. Their leaders were quick-
ly able to identify Shi'ite ex-

tremists whose opinions mat-
ched those of the Iranian
chiefs, in particular the late
Ayatollah Khomeini.
Moslems loyal to the
secular and more moderate
Amal Shi'ite movement were
approached, but with little ef-
fect. Amal maintained a
predominantly Lebanese na-
tionalist and secular line. The
ideological and religious dif-
ferences between the two
groups formed the basis for
future confrontation between
the organizations.
Harb was assassinated in
1984 by unidentified
gunmen, although local
Shi'ites and the Hezbollah

All Akbar Mohtashemi:
Hezbollah founder.

blamed Israel. His death on-
ly served to increase the fer-
vor and fanaticism of his sup-
porters in the South and the
country generally.
Operations in South
Lebanon are now directly con-
trolled by Musawhe, who has
overall responsibility for
authorizing and planning
attacks.
The country is divided into
three parts: Beirut, the
Bekaa Valley, where most
Hezbollah loyalists are
located; and South Lebanon.
Responsibility is delegated
through the Hezbollah
hierarchy to regional and
local leaders down to village
level.
In all cases, the sheiks are
the main representatives of
the organizations, although
they are not usually directly
involved in military opera-
tions or planning. Their chief
role is that of religious
leaders who espouse and sup-
port the Hezbollah line, while
others perform the actual
deeds.
Today, according to reliable
Lebanese sources in Lebanon,
the Hezbollah can count on
being able to mobilize as
many as 3,000 fighters,
although its sympathizers are
estimated to number tens of
thousands.
During 1985-86, after
notable successes by the
Islamic Resistance, the Hez-

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