Also known as Lebanese Hizballah, this group was formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, this Lebanon-based radical Shi’a group takes its ideological inspiration from the Iranian revolution and the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. The Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, is the group’s highest governing body and is led by Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. Hizballah is dedicated to liberating Jerusalem and eliminating Israel and has formally advocated ultimate establishment of Islamic rule in Lebanon. Nonetheless, Hizballah has actively participated in Lebanon’s political system since 1992. Hizballah is closely allied with, and often directed by, Iran but has the capability and willingness to act alone. Although Hizballah does not share the Syrian regime’s secular orientation, the group has been a strong ally in helping Syria advance its political objectives in the region.
Known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-US and anti-Israeli terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombings of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the US Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. Three members of Hizballah—‘Imad Mughniyah, Hasan Izz-al-Din, and Ali Atwa—are on the FBI’s list of 22 Most-Wanted Terrorists for the hijacking in 1985 of TWA Flight 847 during which a US Navy diver was murdered. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of US and other Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s. Hizballah also attacked the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and the Israeli cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994. In fall 2000, Hizballah operatives captured three Israeli soldiers in the Shab’a Farms and kidnapped an Israeli noncombatant whom may have been lured to Lebanon under false pretenses.
In 2003, Hizballah appeared to have established a presence in Iraq, but for the moment its activities there are limited. Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah stated in speeches that “we are heading . . . toward the end and elimination of Israel from the region” and that the group’s “slogan is and will continue to be death to America.” Hizballah’s television station, al-Manar, continued to use inflammatory images and reporting in an effort to encourage the intifadah and promote Palestinian suicide operations.
Several thousand supporters and a few hundred terrorist operatives.
Location/Area of Operation
Operates in the southern suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon. Has established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia.
Receives financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and diplomatic, political, and logistic support from Syria. Receives financial support from sympathetic business interests and individuals worldwide, largely through the Lebanese diaspora.