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Terrorism Groups and their structures

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History

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Demystifying Hezbollah
Hezbollah has long been a group of interest to many scholars, political scientists, and
people in general. It is considered one of the most dangerous and most active terrorist
organizations. However, not many understand what Hezbollah really is or why it is considered a
terrorist group. This paper seeks to shed more light on this issue by highlighting the origins of
Hezbollah as well as highlighting some of the reasons Israel and the U.S. consider it a threat to
their national security.

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The very first interesting thing about Hezbollah is the meaning of its name. In English,
the name translates to ‘Party of God’. Well, the interesting thing is that the name is ironic in that
the activities it takes part in are not reflective of its name. Based in Lebanon, the organization is
predominantly made up of Shiite Muslims who also double up as Lebanon’s weakest religious
group (Hezbollah). It is a militant group as well as a political party. It is believed to have been
founded in 1982 right after Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon and is currently under the
leadership of Hassan Nasrallah who took over in 1992 after the assassination of Abbas al-
Musawi by the Israelis (Masters and Laub). During its formation, it had quite a lot of support
from Iran which is also occupied by Shiite Muslims. In fact, it is widely believed that the
ambassador of Iran to Syria at the time played a pivotal role in its founding (Neff). In addition to
that it is widely known that the Revolutionary Guards of Iran were involved in funding and
training Hezbollah (Masters and Laub). The main objectives of Hezbollah, according to its
manifesto were to rid Lebanon of French, American and Israeli occupation as well as obliterate
the state of Israel. Hezbollah has also been known to be an anti-Wahhabi organization. It is also
important to note that though it originated in Lebanon, Hezbollah has evolved into a large force
whose reverberations can be felt all over the Arab world as well as in other parts of the globe.
Having looked at an overview of what Hezbollah is, I will now delve into why it is
considered a threat to the national securities of Israel and the U.S. This is better done by looking
at some of the activities that the group has carried out against Israel and against the U.S. The
very first of these attacks was the bombing of the Israeli Tyre headquarter building in 1982. This
attack left 102 people dead, 75 of whom were Israelis (Kramer). In 1983, Beirut became the
target of Hezbollah led anti-U.S. attacks. The U.S. embassy annex as well as the barracks of the
Marines were bombed. These attacks left 241 American marines dead (Neff). Again in 1983,

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Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the second bombing of the Tyre headquarters which left
another 29 Israelis dead (Fisher). Other attacks included; the hijacking of the TWA flight 847 in
which Jewish passengers were harassed and an American Navy soldier killed, the bombing of the
Israeli embassy in 1992 as well as the bombing of a Jewish centre in Argentina in 1994 (Masters
and Laub).
Most recently, Hezbollah has been militarily involved in the Syrian uprising as a pro-
Assad group. This of course goes against the will of both the U.S and Israel who are anti-Assad.
It would also be important to note that this involvement has led to lots of criticism of the group
especially because of its double standards (it had been in support of other Arab Spring
movements) (Blanford).More so, it still continues to get support from the Iranians who are also
anti-American and anti-Israel. In fact, Iran vies Hezbollah as an important ally against Israel
(Blanford). Combined, all the above are reasons why Hezbollah is considered a threat to the
national securities of both Israel and the U.S.A.
There are different dimensions from which to look at the faces of the structural change of
Hezbollah. In his book Terrorism and Homeland Security, Jonathan White outlines four phases
of this structural change. According to White the first phase was between 1982 and 1985 in
which Hezbollah was basically involved in organizing itself or rather, setting itself up. During
this phase, several attacks were carried out by different groups believed to be affiliated to
Hezbollah including the Islamic Jihad group which Hezbollah leaders denied knowledge of
(White). The second phase (1985-1990) on the other hand represented a period in which
Hezbollah’s involvement in terrorism activities is bolder and more outspoken. During this
period, regional Hezbollah centers were established; these later become operational bases. It is
also during this period that lots of suicide bombings and kidnappings took place (White).

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