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May 10, 1996 - Image 46

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-05-10

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


On Wednesday, New York Times
correspondent Judith Miller's
penetrating examination of mil-
itant Islamic movements reached America's bookstores. By special per-
mission with the publisher, we offer an excerpt from God Has Ninety-Nine
Names: Reporting From A Militant Middle East, which postulates that
just as there is no united Arab world, so, too, is there no unified Islam.
For even within the Koran, God has 99 names. Ms. Miller, a courageous
reporter with a novelist's gift for narrative, has spent much of her ca-
reer in the Middle East. There, she gained access to the inner work-
ings of militant Islamic groups in 10 countries, including Hezbollah's
political base within Lebanon, where our excerpt opens.


tileirut's southern
suburbs, or "Lit-
tle Teheran," as
they are known,
reminded me more
of the poorer
cities of Iran than
of Lebanon. The
muddy, unpaved
streets were filled
with barefoot children in tat-
tered clothes and smudged faces
and women hooded in black.
The shop and street signs were
in Arabic, not French or Eng-
lish. Makeshift telephone and
power lines crisscrossed the nar-
row, sunless streets. Laundry
hung from the balconies of the
unpainted, four-story, cement-
block buildings.
Again and again the call to
prayer could be heard through-
out the neighborhood. The Par-


Author Judith Miller has been
a New York Times
correspondent since 1977,
including terms as Cairo
bureau chief and special
correspondent to the Persian
Gulf War. Other published
works include One, by One, by
One: Facing the Holocaust.

ty of God's water trucks, schools,
and medical clinics were every-
where, and badly needed. There
was little government-supplied
electricity for the 800,000 most-
ly poor Shiites who now lived
here. The sound of small private
generators hummed through
the dank, unpaved side streets,
where puddles of rainwater
mixed with sewage.
In late 1993, I was on my way
to see Hussein Musawi, a mem-
ber of Hezbollah's ruling Polit-
buro and the founder of a
radical allied group. "(Prime
Minister) Rafic Hariri," Mr. Mu-
sawi told me calmly, had been
"implanted in Lebanon by the
United States so that Lebanon
would make peace with Israel."
Mr. Hariri's "only concern" was
"profits for the rich from his
casinos, bars and hotels. He
does not care about the poor. He
is a dangerous man," Mr. Mu-
sawi said.
Hussein Musawi knew about
dangerous men. He was one of
American and Israeli intel-
ligence officers had long identi-
fied him as a key figure in

In the


of militant


within Lebanon,




and Arabs

must never be.



Hezbollah, an early Lebanese
disciple of the Iranian revolu-
tion that had initiated the hi-
jackings, kidnappings, and
murders of Westerners in
Lebanon in the early 1980s.
American intelligence officials
put him at the center of the
planning and execution of sev-
eral successful terrorist opera-
tions — among them, the
bombings of the American Em-
bassy in Beirut in April 1983,
the U.S. Marine and French
compounds six months later,
and the kidnapping of William
Buckley, the CIA station chief
who was tortured to death. In
the spirit of taqiyya (lying to pro-
tect the faith), Mr. Musawi had
long denied responsibility for
these actions, though he had
condoned them as acts of
"self-defense" against Israeli
and American aggression in

local leaders

The Hezbollah office, like
most militant Islamic head-
quarters, was functional and
spare. There were none of the
expensive, hand-carved wood-
en chairs with stuffed leather
seats and embroidered ot-
tomans found in most rich pri-
vate homes and government
ministries. Tea was served in
small, plain glasses, without the
usual gold trim. There were no
paintings or decorations on the
wall other than pictures of Shi-
ite Islam's heroes: (the late Ay-
atollah Ruhollah) Khomeini; the

vanished imam Musa al-Sadr;
and Hezbollah's latest martyr,
Abbas Musawi, the late leader
of Hezbollah and Hussein Mu-
sawi's cousin.
Israel had killed Abbas Mu-
sawi, his wife, their 6-year-old
son, and five bodyguards in Feb-
ruary 1992 in a dramatic heli-
copter attack on his motorcade
as it was leaving the southern
Lebanese town of Jibsheit.
Sheikh Abbas, who only the
week before had asked God in
his Friday mosque sermon to
"bless and honor us with mar-
tyrdom," had imprudently
traveled to Hezbollah's south-
ernmost outpost to deliver an
impassioned sermon marking
the eighth anniversary of the
murder of Sheikh Harb, the
man I had interviewed in that
same stony, dirt-poor town a
decade ago.
Less than three miles from
Israel's "security zone," Jibsheit
had been the repeated target of
Israel's efforts to crush Hezbol-
lah by, in American spy par-
lance, "neutralizing" its local
leadership. First, Israelis had
killed Sheikh Harb. Then, in
1989, Israeli commandos had
kidnapped Sheikh Abdul Karim
Obeid, who had succeeded
Sheikh Harb as Jibsheit's
imam, or chief sheikh, despite
his lack of formal religious train-
ing. As I sat in Mr. Musawi's of-
fice, I knew that only a few
months earlier Israel had struck
Jibsheit again. During Opera-
tion Accountability, much of the
town, including Sheikh Harb's
tomb, was flattened.

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