Hezbollah

Hezbollah is a Shiite political and militant organization based in Lebanon.

Key Statistics

1983 First Recorded Activity
1983 First Attack
2019 Profile Last Updated

Profile Contents

Overview

Narrative of the Organization's History

Organization

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets and Tactics

Major Attacks

First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

Maps

Mapping relationships with other militant groups over time

Contact MMP

Send a message to the Mapping Militants team.

Download Full Profile as PDF

Last updated August 2016

How to Cite

Mapping Militant Organizations. “Hezbollah.” Stanford University. Last modified July 2019. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/hezbollah

Organizational Overview

Formed: April 9, 1983. 

Disbanded: Group is active. 

First AttackApril 9, 1983: A group called Islamic Jihad, which would later become Hezbollah, claimed responsibility for the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, which killed sixty-three. The attack brought global attention to the group for the first time (63 killed, unknown wounded).[1]

Last Attack: June 2018: A senior Hezbollah field officer executed 23 Syrian soldiers after they refused to cross a bridge exposed to rebel fire – nicknamed the "Death Bridge" – near the town of Hirbat Ghazala (23 killed, 0 wounded).[2]

 

Executive Summary

Hezbollah is a Shia military and political group based in Lebanon. Hezbollah became an established militant group during the Israeli Occupation of Southern Lebanon in 1982. In its 1985 manifesto, Hezbollah professed its goals were to destroy Israel and expel Western influences from Lebanon and the wider Middle East. In 1992, Hezbollah transitioned from acting solely as a militant group fighting against Israel to an established political party in Lebanon. Today, Hezbollah’s political and military wings are both active within the country and take part in elections. Hezbollah has a close relationship with both the Assad and Iranian regimes. Iran provided critical support for Hezbollah’s foundation and remains the group’s primary patron. During the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah acted as one of Assad’s greatest allies and provided thousands of troops for the regime.

Group Narrative

Hezbollah is a Shia political and militant organization based in Lebanon. In its early days, the organization was a loose collection of underground terrorist cells. Over the last thirty years, Hezbollah has evolved into a hybrid organization woven into the structure of Lebanese society. It provides social services and actively participates in politics, while also engaging in international terrorist attacks and regional military operations.[3]

When Lebanon gained its independence in 1943, Shiites became an economically and politically marginalized group.[4]After the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975, several Islamic revivalist movements fueled by mounting Shia discontent took root in Lebanon. The Amal movement – from which Hezbollah would one day split – emerged during this time period and became the most prominent Shia militia during the Lebanese Civil War. The group’s objectives were to gain a greater respect for Lebanon’s Shia population and to increase the share of governmental resources allocated to the southern, Shia-dominated region of Lebanon.[5]

In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to counter Palestinian militants in this southern region.[6]Some Shiites initially supported the Israeli forces because of the security they provided against Palestinian militants. However, popular opinion against Israel began to turn as civilian death tolls rose.[7]Several incidents eroded support for Israeli forces. In September 1982, the Israeli Defense Force was complicit in allowing a Christian Lebanese militia to massacre at least 800 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.[8]Later in 1983, an Israeli patrol accidentally crashed through a Shia festival; when observers began throwing stones, the patrol responded with gunshots and grenades, killing several in the crowd.[9]

Following these incidents and amidst growing anti-Israeli sentiment, several Shiite Amal movement leaders broke away from the militia. Led by Husain al-Musawi, these militants formed a new organization espousing a more militant response to the occupation, which they named Islamic Amal.[10]The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was essential in supporting the formation of the Islamic Amal. Several thousand members of the IRGC were dispatched to support Islamic Amal, and the financial backing of Iran strengthened the group.[11]With the support of Iran, Islamic Amal quickly gained momentum by recruiting of members from other revolutionary Shia organizations, such as the Muslim Student Union and the Dawa Party of Lebanon.[12]The group first attracted international attention with the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the American and French military barracks in Beirut.[13]

In 1985, Islamic Amal published a manifesto under the new name of Hezbollah. It remains unclear whether a group of Islamic Amal members split away from the larger group to form Hezbollah or whether Islamic Amal was simply an earlier iteration of Hezbollah.[14]In the manifesto, Hezbollah outlined several of its key goals: to destroy Israel, to expel Western influences from Lebanon and the wider Middle East, and to combat enemies within Lebanon, particularly the Phalanges Party. Hezbollah asserted that an Islamic state was the only legitimate option for the Lebanese government. The manifesto also denied Israel’s right to exist.[15]

Until 1985, Hezbollah, Amal, and Palestinian guerrillas took part in resistance operations against Israel in Southern Lebanon. From 1984 to the Israeli withdrawal in 1985, the vast majority of attacks against Israeli forces were carried out by Hezbollah.[16]These attacks boosted the image of Hezbollah as the most prominent actor in compelling Israeli's retreat. 

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Hezbollah pursued its goal of combatting Israel and the West through militant means. Hezbollah carried out twelve suicide attacks against Israeli forces and their allies during the occupation, in addition to a number of other military assaults.[17]The group’s attacks killed an average of twenty-five Israeli soldiers per year throughout the occupation.[18]Groups linked to Hezbollah also kidnapped several high-profile foreigners throughout the 1980s, including American Journalist Terry Anderson and U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel William R. Higgins.[19]

Through the effectiveness of the Islamic Resistance, Hezbollah gained a mass Shia constituency and became the Amal movement’s main rival for the leadership of the Shia community. While Hezbollah was the strategic ally of Iran, Amal was heavily tied to the Assad regime in Syria. Hezbollah’s more militant, anti-Israel stance led to bloody clashes with Amal from 1985 to 1989.[20]The 1988 kidnapping of Lt. Colonel Higgins, for example, sparked conflict between the two groups. Hezbollah orchestrated the kidnapping, while Amal opposed the operation. It was in favor of maintaining a stable relationship with the U.N., which would be complicated by the kidnapping of American servicemen. Amal attempted and failed to free Higgins, resulting in renewed clashes between Hezbollah and Amal. 

From 1985 through the 1990s, Hezbollah also maintained an active global presence. A specific branch of Hezbollah, the External Security Organization (also known as the Islamic Jihad Organization or the External Services Organization), was responsible for planning and executing attacks outside of Lebanon. In 1985, members of this branch hijacked TWA Flight 847 from Cairo to Athens. Hezbollah militants held hostages from the flight for weeks and killed one passenger to draw attention to the Lebanese prisoners held in Israel.[21]After the Israeli government released 300 Lebanese prisoners, the hijackers freed the remaining hostages.[22]In March 1992, Hezbollah operatives carried out a truck bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing twenty-nine and wounding hundreds. In July 1994, the group was accused of bombing the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association, which killed nearly 100 and wounded more than 200. Hezbollah denied responsibility for the attack.[23]In June 1996, the group bombed the American Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia, killing 19.[24]

In addition to Hezbollah’s militant agenda both abroad and at home, the group also invested in the social landscape of southern Lebanon. Shia groups in the region had a history of providing social services to the local population. Hezbollah was among the most professional and extensive providers of these services, handling projects from infrastructure construction to health care. After the civil war, Hezbollah continued its day-to-day social service efforts and provided assistance in times of crises. For example, the group rebuilt the homes and businesses of Christian families returning to southern Beirut after the war.[25]Hezbollah also led the reconstruction process after a 1996 Israeli bombing campaign in southern Lebanon, reportedly rebuilding 5,000 homes and repairing roads and infrastructure. The group claimed to have provided compensation to 2,300 farmers in the area.[26]

In 1989, Hezbollah embraced a shift in ideology and tactics. The 1989 Taif Agreement, which ended the Lebanese Civil War, opened the door for Hezbollah to join the Lebanese political process as an official party. The transition from militancy to politics was favored both by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Abbas al Musawi and by Iranian president Hashimi Rafsanjani.[27]Hezbollah competed in its first Lebanese national elections in 1992 and won eight seats in Parliament. Hezbollah also participated in national elections in 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2018. 

Throughout its time as a political party, Hezbollah has often been at odds with the sitting Lebanese government. After the 2005 elections, Hezbollah strongly opposed the American- and Saudi-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. In December 2006, in an attempt to force the sitting government to resign, it led the opposition in a sit-in that resulted in eighteen months of political deadlock.[28]Tensions between the group and national government erupted again in May 2008, when the government announced a plan to shut down Hezbollah’s private telecommunications network. Violence broke out between government supporters and Hezbollah on the streets of Beirut, while the Lebanese army largely sat out the conflict. Within days, Hezbollah and its supporters had taken over parts of Beirut. Speculation that the violence would lead to a coup was quelled when the Arab League brokered a settlement between the government and Hezbollah.[29]The settlement, called the Doha Agreement, granted Hezbollah veto power in the government and pledged that no political group would use weapons for within-country disputes.[30]

Though Hezbollah had become a mainstream political party, it also continued to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli forces.[31]Israel’s departure in 2000 was widely attributed to Hezbollah, increasing the group’s popularity amongst the Lebanese population.[32]  After a period of relative calm from 2000 to 2006, the group kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in July 2006. The conflict resulted in a month-long war with Israel.[33]The war killed both civilians and combatants; 164 Israelis died, and over 1,125 Lebanese perished, most of whom were civilians.[34]Supporters lauded Hezbollah’s endurance and supposed victory against Israel, while others accused the organization of instigating an unnecessary and highly destructive war.[35]

Following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Hezbollah began supporting and training anti-American forces in the region. According to American intelligence, Hezbollah established Unit 3800 exclusively to support Iraqi Shia militant groups targeting American forces.[36]Hezbollah supplied Shia militants with funds and weapons. These Hezbollah-sponsored groups were instrumental in planning several attacks in Iraq, including the 2007 attack on the Karbala Joint Coordination Center which caused deaths of five Americans.[37]Later in 2014, Hezbollah also provided resources to Iraqi groups in their fight against the Islamic State.[38]

In 2011, Hezbollah began sending military advisors to aid the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s increasingly bloody civil war. In June 2013, Hezbollah officials confirmed that the organization had also deployed combat forces to fight alongside Assad’s troops, Russian forces, and other allied Shia organizations. Hezbollah entered the war with two primary objectives. The first was to protect the Assad regime. Assad has served as a vital regional ally to Hezbollah, and the group leadership believed that maintaining Assad’s hold over Syria was necessary to prevent Israeli forces from re-entering Lebanon.[39]Another important objective included preserving – and potentially expanding – the group’s use of Syrian territory as a route for transporting Iranian missile parts and other material.[40]

At first, Hezbollah forces in Syria were mainly concentrated in the city of al-Qusayr on the border of Syria and Lebanon. However, by 2015, Hezbollah operations had spread to other areas of Syria, including in the northwest cities of Idlib and Aleppo, in the south near Daraa, and even in the central and eastern parts of the country.[41]Hezbollah played a critical role in the Aleppo Offensive in late 2016, assisting Assad forces in retaking control of the city.[42]Beyond sending Lebanese militants to fight in the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah also trained and organized Syrian Shia militias and recruited thousands of foreign fighters.[43]The Assad regime regained some of its influence in Syria, and it reasserted control over many Shia militias by 2017.[44]

Throughout the war, Hezbollah fought alongside both Iranian and Russian troops as well as other pro-Assad militant groups. Hezbollah militias were considered the most professional and effective fighting force in the country. The group’s most common opponents were the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and elements of the Free Syrian Army.[45]After 2018, fighting subsided in most areas of Syria. Hezbollah leaders decided to bring much of its personnel home. However, a number of Hezbollah troops remained stationed near Damascus, in Deir al-Zour, and throughout southern Syria.[46]

Though Hezbollah militias were very effective in the Syrian Civil War, they suffered serious casualties. Of the 7,000-10,000 Hezbollah troops deployed to Syria, 1,600-2,000 were estimated to have died in action.[47]Based on these estimates, more Hezbollah fighters died in Syria than during the eighteen-year Israeli occupation of Lebanon.[48]Additionally, several top Hezbollah commanders, such as Abu Jaafar and Ali Fayyad, were killed while serving in Syria.[49]

In addition to these causalities, Hezbollah’s reputation also suffered from the group’s participation in the Syrian Civil War. Hezbollah was once considered one of the most popular sub-state Arab movements in the region, winning support from both Shiites and Sunnis. However, Hezbollah’s support for the Assad regime has alienated much of the Middle East’s Sunni population.[50]  The group’s participation in the war has led to the increased radicalization of Sunnis in the coastal city of Tripoli and parts of Lebanon's northern border.[51]This growing unpopularity is believed to have been a key factor behind the decisions by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in the spring of 2016.[52]

Despite its consequences, the war in Syria greatly increased Hezbollah’s fighting capabilities and weapons stockpile. The group has received significant amounts of high tech military equipment and weaponry from Russia and Iran.[53]Hezbollah militants have also gained experience fighting other non-state actors, such as the Islamic State, and operating in dense urban environments.[54]Additionally, reports suggest that the group’s recruiting capabilities in Lebanon have expanded significantly since 2011 as a result of Hezbollah’s participation in the civil war.[55]

Since 2014, Hezbollah has also sent militants and resources to support Houthi insurgents in the Yemeni Civil War. Initially, Hezbollah primary activities in the civil war were transferring funds and training insurgents.[56]As the war progressed, Hezbollah began sending militants to the region to support the Houthi militants. In 2018, eight Hezbollah members were killed in northwest Yemen, a stronghold of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.[57]

During the Syrian Civil War, Hezbollah’s attention was largely diverted away from Israel. In 2018, Assad forces regained control of the Syrian-administered portion of the Golan Heights, a region bordering Israeli-occupied territory. After Assad’s victory, Hezbollah began establishing cells and militias in the region.[58]The group has located substantial weapons and rockets in Golan Heights neighborhoods in close proximity to Israeli-controlled territory. It has also recruited hundreds of local Syrian men to form new militias.[59]

Since 2019, Hezbollah has faced severe financial constraints. American sanctions on Iran – Hezbollah’s primary patron – significantly affected Iran’s ability to finance the group. As a result, Hezbollah has shut many offices around the country and cut the pay of its employees and militants.[60]The continuation of Americans sanctions may create more serious obstacles for Hezbollah in the future.



[1]"Terrorist Attacks against Americans, 1979-1988." Frontline: Target America. PBS, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014; "Incident 198304180001." Global Terrorism Database. University of Maryland, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.

[2]Julian, Hana Levi. “Hezbollah Executes 23 Syrian Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight” The Jewish Press, 19 Jun. 2018.

[3]Azani, Eitan. "The Hybrid Terrorist Organization: Hezbollah as a Case Study." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36.11 (2013): 899-916. Web.

[4]Hamzeh, Ahmad Nizar. In the Path of Hizbullah. Syracuse University Press, 2004. Print.

[5]Harik, Judith Palmer. Hezbollah – The Changing Face of Terrorism, I.B. Tauris & Co, 2004. Print

[6]Goldberg, Jeffrey. “In the Party of God: Are Terrorists in Lebanon Preparing for a Larger Goal?” The New Yorker, Oct. 14, 2002.

[7]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 33. Print.

[8]Israel. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Historical Documents. 104 Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Events at the Refugee Camps in Beirut. N.p., 8 Feb. 1983. Web. 13 Mar. 2015; Anziska, Seth. "A Preventable Massacre." The New York Times. N.p., 16 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.

[9]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 66. Print.

[10]“Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012; "Profile: Lebanon's Hezbollah." BBC News. 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2015; Addis, Casey, and Christopher Blanchard. CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Hezbollah: Background and Issues for Congress. Rep. Congressional Research Service, 3 Jan. 2011: 7. Web. 8 Feb. 2015; Deeb, Marius.Syria’s Terrorist War on Lebanon and the Peace Process. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

[11]Hudson, Rex. “The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?” Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 17 Aug. 2006. 

[12]Levitt, Matthew. Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. London: C. Hurst and, 2013. 12. Print.

[13]Worth, Robert. "Hezbollah’s Rise Amid Chaos." New York Times. N.p., 15 Jan. 2011. Web. 26 June 2014; Addis, Casey, and Christopher Blanchard. CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Hezbollah: Background and Issues for Congress. Rep. Congressional Research Service, 3 Jan. 2011: 7-8. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

[14]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 34-45. Print.

[15]"An Open Letter: The Hizballah Program." Primary Sources. Council on Foreign Relations, 01 Jan. 1988. Web. 27 June 2014.

[16]Mahmud A Faksh, 'The Shi'a community of Lebanon: a new assertive political force', Journal of South Asia and Middle Eastern Studies, XIV (3), Spring 1991, p 51, fn. 61.

[17]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 80. Print.

[18]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 90. Print.

[19]Specter, Michael. "Terry Anderson Receives Hero's Welcome at A.P." The New York Times. 10 Dec. 1991. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

[20]Mahmud A Faksh, 'The Shi'a community of Lebanon: a new assertive political force', Journal of South Asia and Middle Eastern Studies, XIV (3), Spring 1991.

[21]“Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012; Thomas Collelo, ed. Lebanon: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1987; Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 42. Print; Levitt, Matthew. Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. London: C. Hurst and, 2013. 13 and 222. Print.

[22]Pearson, Erica. The Sage Encyclopedia of Terrorism. Ed. Gus Martin. Second ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2011. 595-6. Print.

[23]United States. U.S. Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2014; United States. U.S. Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1994. N.p., Apr. 1995. Web. 27 June 2014.

[24]Leonnig, Carol D. "Iran Held Liable In Khobar Attack." Washington Post. N.p., 23 Dec. 2006. Web. 27 June 2014; "Incident 199606250006." Global Terrorism Database. University of Maryland, n.d. Web. 27 June 2014.

[25]Cammett, Melani. "Habitat for Hezbollah." Habitat for Hezbollah Comments. Foreign Policy, 17 Aug. 2006. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

[26]Flanigan, Shawn Teresa, and Mounah Abdel-Samad. "Hezbollah's Social Jihad: Nonprofits As Resistance Organizations." Middle East Policy16.2 (2009): 126. Wiley Online Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[27]Hamzeh, Nizar. “Lebanon's Hizbullah: from Islamic Revolution to Parliamentary Accommodation.” Third World Quarterly, vol. 14, no. 2, 1993. American University of Beirut.

[28]Worth, Robert, and Nada Bakri. "Deal for Lebanese Factions Leaves Hezbollah Stronger." The New York Times. 21 May 2008. Web. 30 Jan. 2015; Shadid, Anthony. "In Lebanon, Saniora Stiffens His Resistance / Prime Minister Rallies His Backers, Mostly Sunnis, against Hezbollah and Its Allies." SFGate. San Fransisco Chronicle, 15 Dec. 2006. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

[29]Worth, Robert, and Nada Bakri. "Hezbollah Seizes Swath of Beirut From U.S.-Backed Lebanon Government." The New York Times. 9 May 2008. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

[30]"Lebanon Rivals Agree Crisis Deal." BBC News. BBC, 21 May 2008. Web. 26 June 2014; Worth, Robert F., and Nada Bakri. "Deal for Lebanese Factions Leaves Hezbollah Stronger." The New York Times. N.p., 21 May 2008. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

[31]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 90. Print.

[32]Worth, Robert. "Hezbollah’s Rise Amid Chaos." New York Times. N.p., 15 Jan. 2011. Web. 26 June 2014; “Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012

[33]“Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012.

[34]"Profile: Lebanon's Hezbollah Movement." BBC News. 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

[35]"Who Are Hezbollah?" BBC News. BBC, 07 Apr. 2010. Web. 26 June 2014; "Profile: Lebanon's Hezbollah." BBC News. N.p., 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 June 2014.

[36]Levitt, Matthew and Nadav Pollak. “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long War.” The Washington Institute, 25 Jun. 2014

[37]Levitt, Matthew and Nadav Pollak. “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long War.” The Washington Institute, 25 Jun. 2014

[38]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016.

[39]Jones, Seth G. and Markusen, Maxwell B. “The Escalating Conflict with Hezbollah in Syria”Center for Strategic and International Studies. Jun. 2018

[40]Jones, Seth G. and Markusen, Maxwell B. “The Escalating Conflict with Hezbollah in Syria”Center for Strategic and International Studies. Jun. 2018

[41]De Luce, Dan. “Syrian War Takes Rising Toll on Hezbollah.” Foreign Policy, 9 July 2015. Web. 25 April 2016.

[42]Perry, Tom, et al. “Hezbollah, Other Shi'ite Allies Helped Assad Win in Aleppo.” Reuters, 14 Dec. 2016.

[43]Ali, Mohanad Hage. “Defining the Syria-Hezbollah Relationship.” Carnegie Middle East Center, 29 Mar. 2019.

[44]Ali, Mohanad Hage. “Defining the Syria-Hezbollah Relationship.” Carnegie Middle East Center, 29 Mar. 2019.

[45]Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016; “Eight Hezbollah fighters killed in Aleppo clashes over weekend.” The Daily Star Lebanon, 4 April 2016. Web. 20 April 2016; De Luce, Dan. “Syrian War Takes Rising Toll on Hezbollah.” Foreign Policy, 9 July 2015. Web. 25 April 2016.

[46]Kajjo, Sirwan. “Hezbollah Leader: We Have Reduced our Military Presence in Syria.” VOA News, 14 Jul. 2019

[47]Chulov,Martin. “Censured by Britain, Hezbollah is bigger than ever in Beirut” The Guardian, 02 Mar. 2019

Jones, Seth G. and Markusen, Maxwell B. “The Escalating Conflict with Hezbollah in Syria”Center for Strategic and International Studies. Jun. 2018

[48]Clarke, Colin P., and Chad C. Serena. “Hezbollah Is Winning the War in Syria.” The National Interest, The Center for the National Interest, 30 Jan. 2017

[49]“Hezbollah Leader ‘Abu Jaafar’ Killed in Syria.” Al Arabiya English, 5 April 2016.

[50]Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016.

[51]Anderson, Sulome. “Hezbollah Is the Real Winner of the Battle of Aleppo.” Newsweek, 14 Jan. 2017

[52]Nader, Sami. “Can Hezbollah withstand Saudis’ wrath?” Al-Monitor, 23 March 2016. Web. 20 April 2016; Karami, Arash. “OIC conference begins with Iran-Saudi spat.” Al-Monitor, 14 April 2016. Web. 25 April 2016; “Hezbollah lambastes OIC over terrorist group label.” The Daily Star Lebanon, 18 April 2016. Web. 25 20 April 2016.

[53]Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah’s Death Valley.” Foreign Policy, 2 March 2015. Web. 20 April 2016; Wood, L. Todd. “Hezbollah acquires advance Russian air-defense systems.” 8 April 2016. Web. 20 April 2016.

[54]Clarke, Colin P., and Chad C. Serena. “Hezbollah Is Winning the War in Syria.” The National Interest, The Center for the National Interest, 30 Jan. 2017

[55]George, Susannah. "This Is Not Your Father’s Hezbollah." Foreign Policy. 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/15/this-is-not-your-fathers-hezbollah/>.

[56]Levitt, Matthew and Nadav Pollak. “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long War.” The Washington Institute, 25 Jun. 2014

[57]Riyadh, Aden. “Eight Hezbollah fighters killed in Yemen.” The Daily Star,26 Jun. 2018

[58]Kubovich, Yaniv. “Hezbollah Entrenching Itself in Syrian Golan, Establishing Terror Infrastructure, Israeli Army Says.” Haaretz, 13 Mar. 2019

[59]Kubovich, Yaniv. “Hezbollah Entrenching Itself in Syrian Golan, Establishing Terror Infrastructure, Israeli Army Says.” Haaretz, 13 Mar. 2019

[60]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

 

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

    Name Changes
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations
  • Leadership

Name Changes

Hezbollah first announced itself as a cohesive group in 1985. Before that, its members were part of organizations like Islamic Amal, which many analysts deem an early iteration of Hezbollah.[1]The U.S. government considers Islamic Jihad, the name that the group used to claim its first attack, to be an alias of Hezbollah. 



[1]“Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012; "Profile: Lebanon's Hezbollah." BBC News. 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

 

Size Estimates

  • 2006: 3,000 full time and part-time fighters (Jane’s Intelligence Review)[1]
  • 2008: About 1,000 core members and between 3,000 and 10,000 reserve fighters (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism)[2]
  • 2015: Hezbollah MP Nawwaf Moussawi went on record to say that the group’s membership had “increased significantly” since the 2006 war against Israel[3]  
  • 2017: 25,000 fully trained and active combatants with an estimated 20,000-30,000 reservists (Jane’s Intelligence Review)[4]
  • 2019: 7,000-10,000 fighters in Syria alone (Center for Strategic and International Studies)[5]


[1]Blandford, Nicholas. “Israel raises alarm over advances by Hizbullah and Iran.” Jane’s by IHS Markit, 2017 

[2]““Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012

[3]Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016.

[4]Blandford, Nicholas. “Israel raises alarm over advances by Hizbullah and Iran.” Jane’s by IHS Markit, 2017

[5]Jones, Seth G. and Markusen, Maxwell B. “The Escalating Conflict with Hezbollah in Syria”Center for Strategic and International Studies. Jun. 2018

 

Resources

Hezbollah is supported by Iran, Syria, and fundraising networks across the globe, especially within the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.[1]Much of its funding comes from private donations and business profits.[2]Some of these businesses are legitimate, while others are illegal. For example, groups and individuals have supported Hezbollah from abroad with revenues from the blood diamond trade in Sierra Leone and credit card fraud in the United States.[3]

Although most members of Hezbollah are Lebanese Shiites, the organization recruits globally. Foreign-born recruits and Arab Israelis living abroad were especially sought after in the early 2000s. Their passports allowed them to pass through Israeli security more easily, which would allow Hezbollah to carry out terrorist operations inside Israeli borders. Some Hezbollah members abroad serve as logistical or financial operatives instead of militants, performing functions like fundraising and recruiting.[4]Hezbollah also recruited thousands of foreign Shi’ites to form independent militias to fight in the Syrian Civil War,  drawing heavily from Pakistani and Afghan volunteers.[5]

Since Hezbollah was established, Iran and its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have played a large role in training, supplying, and funding the group. The IRGC has trained thousands of Hezbollah militants and continues to provide the group with supplies, as evidenced by the 2009 Israeli seizure of a navy ship carrying 400-500 tons of weapons destined for Hezbollah from Iran.[6]While analysts agree that Iran is a key source of funding for the organization, estimates of its annual financial support to Hezbollah vary wildly over time, from $60,000 per year to $200 million per year.[7]

Since pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal in May 2018, American sanctions on Iran have significantly impacted Hezbollah’s finances. The group has frozen all financing, merged several institutions, and closed hundreds of offices and apartments in Lebanon.[8]Hezbollah’s social services budget has also decreased, following an early reduction in 2013. Militants have complained about losses in their wages; married fighters are being paid only half of their expected salaries (which typically range from $600 - $12000 every month). Single militants are only receiving $200 per month.[9]In March 2019, Hassan Nasrallah made a public plea for donations to Hezbollah to support the group’s activities and combat U.S. sanctions.[10]Hezbollah also hopes to use public resource finances to satisfy its community; since gaining control of three Lebanese government ministries in the January 2019 elections, Hezbollah may use ministry money to support those affected by recent budget cuts.[11]Hezbollah has also increasingly engaged in smuggling along the Lebanon-Syria border as a means to finance its operations.[12]

The Syrian government has historically played a key role as an intermediary between Iran and Hezbollah, shuttling arms and intelligence between the two parties.[13]In addition to facilitating weapons transport from Iran, Syria has also provided weapons directly to the group.[14]One of Hezbollah’s primary objectives in the Syrian Civil War was preserving – and potentially expanding – the use of Syrian territory as a route for transporting Iranian missile parts and other material.[15]Since Russia began participating in the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian government has given Hezbollah a number of advanced Russian anti-aircraft weapon. Among these systems are a number of SA-17 Buk missile batteries, which can directly target Israeli aircraft operating over Northern Israel and Syria.[16]

Hezbollah is estimated to have amassed a vast arsenal of relatively sophisticated weapons over the past several decades. AIPAC – a pro-Israel lobby group- recently suggest that Hezbollah has stockpiled 120,000-150,000 rockets and missiles of a variety of ranges and sizes.[17]In June 2019, Nasrallah announced at a rally in Beirut that Hezbollah had acquired precision missiles that could strike every town, city, and military installation in Israel.[18]In future conflict, Hezbollah has the resources to launch 1,500 rockets per day, compared with 120 per day in 2006.[19][KNR1] In addition, Hezbollah has developed drone capabilities far more advanced than any other terrorist group in the world. Over the past four years, it has destroyed numerous Islamic State targets in Syria using Karrar armed drones.[20]



[1]Country Reports on Terrorism 2009. Rep. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Aug. 2010: 124. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

[2]Country Reports on Terrorism 2009. Rep. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Aug. 2010: 255. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. Levitt, Matthew. Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. London: C. Hurst and, 2013. 323. Print.

[3]Levitt, Matthew. Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. London: C. Hurst and, 2013. 323. Print.

[4]Levitt, Matthew. "Unit 1800." Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 208-37. Print.

[5]Dehghanpisheh, Babak. “Iran recruits Pakistani Shi’ites for combat in Syria” Reuters,10 Dec. 2015

[6]Country Reports on Terrorism 2009. Rep. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Aug. 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

[7]Masters, Johnathan, and Zachary Laub. "Hezbollah." Backgrounders. Council on Foreign Relations, 3 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 June 2014; ““Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012 https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012; Szekely, Ora. "Hezbollah's Survival: Resources And Relationships." Middle East Policy 19.4 (2012): 115. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 June 2014.

[8]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

[9]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

[10]“Hezbollah calls on supporters to donate as sanctions pressure bites.”Reuters, 08 Mar. 2019

[11]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

[12]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

[13]“Lebanon’s Hizbollah Turns Eastward to Syria.” International Crisis Group, 27 May 2014. Web. 25 June 2014.

[14]Country Reports on Terrorism 2009. Rep. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Aug. 2010: 195. Web. 8 Feb. 2015; Country Reports on Terrorism 2009. Rep. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Aug. 2010: 134. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

[15]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

[16]Wood, L. Todd. “Hezbollah acquires advance Russian air-defense systems.” 8 April 2016. Web. 20 April 2016.

[17]Hezbollah.The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, 2019 

https://www.aipac.org/-/media/publications/policy-and-politics/fact-shee...

[18]Khoury, Jack. “Nasrallah Says Hezbollah Has Precision Missiles That Could Strike Targets Throughout Israel.” Haaretz, 01 Jun. 2019

[19]Hezbollah.The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, 2019, https://www.aipac.org/-/media/publications/policy-and-politics/fact-shee...

[20]Jones, Seth G. and Markusen, Maxwell B. “The Escalating Conflict with Hezbollah in Syria”Center for Strategic and International Studies. Jun. 2018

 

 

 

Geographic Locations

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the militant organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

Hezbollah is based in southern Lebanon, and its headquarters are located in the Bekaa Valley.[1]It conducts the majority of its planning, logistical, and military operations there, but it also operates cells globally. Members abroad raise money for the group, recruit, or plan operations.[2]For example, Hezbollah deployed dozens of commanders to Iraq in 2003; Hezbollah militants helped train and establish Shia militias in Iraq to fight against U.S. and Coalition forces.[3]From 2014-2019, Hezbollah also deployed militants to Yemen to support the Houthi insurgency. Hezbollah has also formed cells in the West; In 2017, the U.S. intelligence community identified and arrested a Hezbollah sleeper cell operating in New York City. The cell had plans to create a stockpile of weapons and target prominent Israelis in the city.[4]

Beginning in 2013, Hezbollah also deployed significant troops in Syria to fight alongside the forces of Bashar al-Assad.[5]Hezbollah forces were initially concentrated in the city of al-Qusayr, on the border of Syria and Lebanon. By 2015, Hezbollah operations had spread to other areas of Syria, including in the northwest cities of Idlib and Aleppo, in the south near Daraa, and even in the central and eastern parts of the country. In 2018, the group participated in offenses near the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria.[6]

In 2019, Israeli forces discovered Hezbollah cells in border villages on the Syrian Golan Heights. After Assad’s forces took control of the Syrian Golan Heights in 2018, Hezbollah took advantage of the victory to establish infrastructure to threaten Israel near the border.[7]As of 2019, Hezbollah operatives are recruiting hundreds of men from the Golan Heights to assist in their fight against Israel. The fighters receive monthly wages and are given small arms, explosives, and missiles.[8] This recent development has challenged Assad’s long-standing understanding with Israel to leave the Golan front alone in accordance with a 1974 armistice agreement. In response, Israel declared that Hezbollah’s operations to build a military capacity in Syria would not stand; since May of 2018, Israel has carried out strikes on Hezbollah units in the Golan Heights.[9]



[1]Worth, Robert. "Hezbollah’s Rise Amid Chaos." New York Times. N.p., 15 Jan. 2011. Web. 26 June 2014.

[2]Levitt, Matthew. Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God. Print; “Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012

[3]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016.

[4]Levitt, Matthew. “Hezbollah isn’t just in Beirut. It’s in New York, Too.” Foreign Policy, 14 Jun. 2019

[5]Hubbard, Ben. "Syrian Fighting Gives Hezbollah New but Diffuse Purpose." New York Times 20 May 2014: n. pag. New York Times. Web. 25 June 2014.

[6]De Luce, Dan. “Syrian War Takes Rising Toll on Hezbollah.” Foreign Policy, 9 July 2015. Web. 25 April 2016.

[7]Gross, Judah Ari. “IDF says it exposed new Hezbollah cell in Syrian Golan Heights.”  Times of Israel, 13 Mar. 2019

[8]Kubovich, Yaniv. “Hezbollah Entrenching Itself in Syrian Golan, Establishing Infrastructure, Israeli Army Says.” Haaretz, 13 Mar. 2019

[9]Ali, Mohanad Hage. “Defining the Syria-Hezbollah Relationship.” Carnegie Middle East Center, 29 Mar. 2019.

 

 

 

Leadership

Sayyad Abbas Musawi(unknown - February 16, 1992): Musawi was Hezbollah’s cofounder and first secretary-general. He was killed in 1992 by an Israeli helicopter strike that also killed six other militants.[1]

Hassan Nasrallah(1992 - current): Nasrallah is Hezbollah’s current secretary-general. During the 1975 Lebanese Civil War, Nasrallah joined the Amal movement at age fifteen. In 1982, Musawi left Amal, and Nasrallah followed him to help form Hezbollah.[2]Nasrallah took over Hezbollah’s leadership at the request of Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after Musawi’s assassination in 1992. Under Nasrallah's leadership, Hezbollah became a serious opponent of the Israeli forces in southern Lebanon; he is credited for significantly affecting Israel’s decision to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000.[3]In 2013, Nasrallah pledged his support for the Assad regime in the Syrian Civil War. He has sent thousands of Hezbollah troops to fight in Syria.[4]Since 2018, Nasrallah has made few public appearances, giving rise to worries about his current health condition.[5]

Imad Mughniyeh(1983 - February 12, 2008): Mughniyeh was Hezbollah’s senior military commander and was reportedly responsible for a number of overseas attacks. He was killed in a car bombing in 2008 that was allegedly carried out by Israeli intelligence in coordination with the CIA.[6]

Mustafa Badr al-Din (2008 - May 10, 2016):Badr al-Dinallegedly replaced Imad Mughniyah as military commander of Hezbollah. Badr al-Din was killed in Syria on May 10, 2016, in an explosion at the Damascus airport. The circumstances surrounding the explosion are somewhat unclear; some sources allege that it was the result of rebel artillery while others have blamed an Israeli missile strike. Hezbollah has released a statement that it is investigating both possibilities.[7]

Naim Qassem(1992 - present): Qassem was appointed to serve as the deputy chief of Hezbollah in 1992. He has been affiliated with the organization since 1982.[8]In 2004, Qassem published a history of Hezbollah that included an autobiographical account of his role in the organization, which has since been translated into numerous languages.[9]He is widely credited with being Hezbollah’s leading media personality. Since 2018,  Secretary-General Nasrallah has reduced his public appearances, and Qassem has adopted a greater public leadership. 

Talal Hamiyah(unknown - present): Hamiyah leads the group’s External Security Organization (ESO), which is the branch of Hezbollah that plans and executes attacks outside of Lebanon. This branch was formerly run by Mughniyah.[10]Hamiyah is believed to have been behind Hezbollah’s 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Argentina that killed 85.[11]There have not been any attacks specifically attributed to the ESO since 1994. However, Israel believes Hamiyah may be recruiting global Hezbollah cells in Europe, South America, and Africa.[12]Hamiyah has also been responsible for sending Al-Qaeda volunteers to Iraq via Syria. According to reports from Lebanese sources, he traveled to Iraq regularly and was in contact with the leaders of the Shia militias fighting against U.S. forces.[13]On October 10, 2017, the U.S. government offered a reward of up to $7 million for information on Hamiyah.[14]

Ali Musa Daqduq (1983 - present): Daqduq – also known under the alias Abu Hussein Sajed – leads Hezbollah’s efforts to build an offensive campaign in the Golan Heights. He was involved in fighting against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Southern Lebanon in 1983. Daqduq was later sent to Iraq to assist the Shia militias in operations against U.S. forces.[15]He is wanted by the United States for orchestrating an attack in Karbala, Iraq in 2007 that resulted in the deaths of five U.S. soldiers.[16]As of 2019, Daqduq serves as commander of the Hezbollah network in the Syrian Golan Heights. 

 



[1]Haberman, Clyde. "Israelis Kill Chief of Pro-Iranian Shiites in South Lebanon." New York Times. N.p., 17 Feb. 1992. Web. 25 June 2014.

[2]Profile: Sayed Hassan Nasrallah. Aljazeera, 10 Apr. 2006.

[3]"Profile: Hassan Nasrallah." Backgrounders. Council on Foreign Relations, 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 27 June 2014.

[4]Mroue, Bassem. “Hezbollah Chief Says Group Is Fighting in Syria.” Yahoo! News, Yahoo!, 25 May 2013

[5]Perry, Smadar. “Where Has Hassan Nasrallah Gone?” Ynetnews, Ynetnews, 14 Jan. 2019

[6]Bakri, Nada, and Graham Bowley. "Top Hezbollah Commander Killed in Syria." New York Times. New York Times, 13 Feb. 2008. Web. 26 June 2014; Goldman, Adam, and Ellen Nakashima. "CIA and Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Figure in Car Bombing." Washington Post. 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.

[7]"Press Center." Treasury Designates Hizballah Leadership. 13 Sept. 2012. Web. 2 Feb. 2015; Chulov, Martin and Kareem Shaheen. “Leading Hezbollah commander and key Israel target killed in Syria.” The Guardian, 12 May 2016. Web. 13 May 2016; “Top Hezbollah Commander Killed in Syria.” Foreign Policy: The Middle East Daily, 13 May 2016. Web. 13 May 2016.

[8]Barnard, Anne. "Hezbollah Appears to Acknowledge a Spy at the Top." The New York Times. 5 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 Feb. 2015.

[9]Naim Qassem. Counter Extremism, 2019

[10]"Press Center." Treasury Designates Hizballah Leadership. 13 Sept. 2012. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.

[11]“Who are the two Hezbollah Commanders Wanted by the U.S.?”Haaretz. 11 October 2017. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/who-are-the-two-hezbollah-leaders-wanted...

[12]“Talal Hamiyah.”Counter Extremism Project. 2019. Accessed 19 July 2019. https://www.counterextremism.com/extremists/talal-hamiyah

[13]“Who are the two Hezbollah Commanders Wanted by the U.S.?”Haaretz. 11 October 2017. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/who-are-the-two-hezbollah-leaders-wanted...

[14]Ahronheim, Anna. “US Offers Millions for Two Top Hezbollah Operatives.” The Jerusalem Post, 11 Oct. 2017

[15]“Ali Mussa Daqduq: Portrait of the Commander of Hezbollah’s military network in the Syrian Golan Heights.” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center,19 Mar. 2019

[16]Issacharoff, Avi. “Hezbollah is now giving orders to Syria’s army – and using it to spy on Israel.” The Times of Israel, 24 Jun. 2019

 

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

    Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

  • Ideology: Shiite 

According to Hezbollah’s 1985 manifesto, its original goals were to destroy Israel, to expel Western influences from Lebanon and the wider Middle East, and to combat its enemies within Lebanon, particularly the Christian Phalanges Party. The group would “permit” Lebanese people to choose their own government, with the caveat that “only an Islamic regime can stop any further tentative attempts of imperialistic infiltration into our county.”[1]The group considered the international system and the 1985 Lebanese government subject to imperial influences and hostile to Islam, and it denied Israel’s right to exist.[2]As Hezbollah’s constituency broadened to include more moderate Shiites, organization leaders like Hassan Nasrallah and Naim Qassem suggested that the manifesto was becoming more disconnected from the group’s operations and goals.[3]

In the early 1990s, Hezbollah transformed from a non-state revolutionary group to a hybrid state actor, employing both political and violent means to achieve its goals. Unlike during the group’s foundation, Hezbollah began to consider the established Lebanese political system an appropriate channel through which to gain influence. Today, Hezbollah’s activities and structure encompass many state-like characteristics.[4]

A new 2009 manifesto reflected large shifts in Hezbollah’s ideology since 1985. The 2009 manifesto emphasized national unity, denounced sectarianism, and did not single out Islamic governance as the only option for Lebanon’s future. However, not all of Hezbollah’s goals had changed. The group still sought to liberate Palestine, and the manifesto highlighted its continued opposition to the United States and commitment to fight Israeli expansion and aggression.[5]

In 2011, the group vocally supported many of the Arab Spring uprisings.[6]However, Hezbollah also aims to protect the Assad regime, one of its key allies in the region. The group has sent troops to support the Assad government in Syria and expel extremist Sunni militias from the country.[7]Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah vowed to continue the group’s military support of the Assad regime until it regained control of Syria.[8]



[1]"An Open Letter: The Hizballah Program." Primary Sources. Council on Foreign Relations, 01 Jan. 1988. Web. 27 June 2014.

[2]"An Open Letter: The Hizballah Program." Primary Sources. Council on Foreign Relations, 01 Jan. 1988. Web. 27 June 2014.

[3]"An Open Letter: The Hizballah Program." Primary Sources. Council on Foreign Relations, 01 Jan. 1988. Web. 27 June 2014; Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 34-45. Print.

[4]Levi, Roman. “Changes in Hebollah’s Identity and Fundamental Worldview.” Strategic Assessment, vol. 19, no. 2, Jul. 2016

[5]Thomas Collelo, ed. Lebanon: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1987; Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 175. Print.

[6]Berti, Benedetta. "Hizb Allah's Position on the Arab Spring." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point, 1 June 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

[7]George, Susannah. "This Is Not Your Father’s Hezbollah." Foreign Policy. 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

[8]“Syria Regime Digs In On Bashar Al Assad As Hezbollah Vows To Fight On.” NDTV,22 March 2016. Web. 20 April 2016.

 

Political Activities

Hezbollah is active in Lebanese politics as a political party called Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc. This political party was formed following the 1989 Taif Agreement, which ended the Lebanese Civil War. Before joining Lebanese politics in 1989, the group used the media to participate in national political discourse. In 1984, it began publishing a weekly newspaper, al-Ahad, and started broadcasting two radio stations soon thereafter. In 1989, it created its own television station, al-Manar. These media outlets published political commentary, news, cultural programs, Islamic programs, and propaganda associated with the organization’s fight against Israel and Western forces.[1]

After the 1989 Taif Agreement, Hezbollah militants extensive internal debates on whether or not to enter the Lebanese political system. The organization ended up creating a party that would act within the Lebanese system but would also employ violence and the threat of violence as a tool in its political dealings. It ran in national elections for the first time in 1992 and won eight seats in the parliamentary elections.[2]Hezbollah also participated in the 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2018 national elections. The party has focused largely on nonreligious themes, but officials say that Hezbollah members are required by Islamic law to support the party.[3]

In December 2006, Hezbollah’s political party led the opposition in a sit-in that resulted in eighteen months of political deadlock.[4] Tensions between the group and national government erupted again in May 2008, when the government began to follow through with a plan to shut down Hezbollah’s private telecommunications network. Violence broke out between government supporters and Hezbollah on the streets of Beirut while the Lebanese army largely sat out the conflict. Hezbollah and its supporters took over parts of Beirut, but speculation that the violence would lead to a coup was quelled when the Arab League brokered a settlement between the government and Hezbollah.[5]The settlement, called the Doha Agreement, granted Hezbollah veto power in the government and pledged that no political group would use weapons for domestic disputes.[6]During this political period, Hezbollah and the Amal party created the March 8th Alliance, a coalition of mostly Shiite Muslim and Syrian-backed parties.[7]Through the March 8thAlliance, Hezbollah consistently won a minority of parliament seats until the coalition’s collapse in 2013. The collapse resulted from the resignation of Najib Makati, Lebanon’s prime minister. 

Hezbollah supported some Arab Spring movements but opposed the uprisings in Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a critical ally and supporter of Hezbollah. His fall subsequently would jeopardize Hezbollah’s power and security in the region, as well as weaken Hezbollah’s geographical access to Iran.[8] To help maintain Assad’s power, Hezbollah heavily invested in the Syrian Civil War, sending nearly ten thousand troops and training dozens of Shia militias. 

In 2018, the March 8th Alliance emerged victorious from the Lebanese general election. The coalition – which includes Hezbollah, the Shia Amal Movement, the Maronite Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), and allied parties – won 68 of 128 seats in parliament. Hezbollah itself secured 13 of the 68 coalition spots, neither gaining nor losing any seats.[9]The coalition secured enough seats to ensure a majority. The election notably weakened the US-backed prime minister, Saad Hariri, and his supporters.[10]

Hezbollah also gained control of three of the 30 ministries in the Lebanese governments, including the Ministry of Health.[11]In February 2019, U.S. officials warned that Hezbollah may exploit these ministries to funnel money or undertake terrorist activity throughout the region.[12]

Since 2019, the United States has increasingly put pressure on other countries to designate Hezbollah’s political wing as a terrorist organization. The United Kingdom added Hezbollah’s political wing to its list of terrorist groups in February 2019.[13]In July 2019, the U.S. Treasury added two top Hezbollah political leaders to its list of sanctioned individuals. This was the first instance the United States had designated a member of Lebanon’s government under a terrorist sanctions list.[14]



[1]Azani, Eitan. "The Hybrid Terrorist Organization: Hezbollah as a Case Study." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36.11 (2013): 905. Web; “Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012

[2]Masters, Johnathan, and Zachary Laub. "Hezbollah." Backgrounders. Council on Foreign Relations, 3 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 June 2014.

[3]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 78102 Print.

[4]Worth, Robert, and Nada Bakri. "Deal for Lebanese Factions Leaves Hezbollah Stronger." The New York Times. 21 May 2008. Web. 30 Jan. 2015; Shadid, Anthony. "In Lebanon, Saniora Stiffens His Resistance / Prime Minister Rallies His Backers, Mostly Sunnis, against Hezbollah and Its Allies." SFGate. San Fransisco Chronicle, 15 Dec. 2006. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

[5]Worth, Robert, and Nada Bakri. "Hezbollah Seizes Swath of Beirut From U.S.-Backed Lebanon Government." The New York Times. 9 May 2008. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

[6]"Lebanon Rivals Agree Crisis Deal." BBC News. BBC, 21 May 2008. Web. 26 June 2014; Worth, Robert F., and Nada Bakri. "Deal for Lebanese Factions Leaves Hezbollah Stronger." The New York Times. N.p., 21 May 2008. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

[7]“U.S.-Backed Alliance Wins in Lebanon.” New York Times, 07 June 2009.

[8]“Lebanon’s Hizbollah Turns Eastward to Syria.” International Crisis Group, 27 May 2014. Web. 25 June 2014.

[9]Humud, Carla. “Lebanon’s 2018 Election.” CRS Insight, 11 May 2018

[10]Yee, Vivian, and Hwaida Saad. “As Hezbollah Rises in Lebanon's Government, Fears About U.S. Response Follow.” The New York Times, 1 Feb. 2019

[11]“Hezbollah calls on supporters to donate as sanctions pressure bites.”Reuters, 08 Mar. 2019

[12]Yee, Vivian, and Hwaida Saad. “As Hezbollah Rises in Lebanon's Government, Fears About U.S. Response Follow.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Feb. 2019

[13]Hall, Richard. “Hezbollah added to UK’s list of terrorist groups.” Independent,25 Feb. 2019

[14]“US puts Hezbollah MPs in Lebanon on sanctions list for first time.”Ajazeera, 9 Jul. 2019.

 

 

 

Targets and Tactics

Hezbollah has targeted Israeli and Western military personnel and citizens, particularly in the Middle East. Most recently, the group has targeted the Syrian Sunni opposition forces and the Islamic State in the Syrian Civil War. Hezbollah has also fought against government forces in Yemen.

Hezbollah’s tactics have evolved since its creation. Beginning in the 1980s, it commonly kidnapped foreigners and locals as leverage to bargain with the West and Israel.[1]Other forms of violent attacks against Israel during the occupation of Lebanon were largely limited to military targets.[2]In the 1980s and 1990s, Hezbollah engaged in large-scale attacks on Western and Israeli targets, which resulted in hundreds of casualties and drew attention to the group. In recent years, Hezbollah has developed elements of a more traditional military force, though it still engages in acts of terrorism. The group demonstrated its capabilities as a high functioning military in the Syrian Civil War.[3]Hezbollah militias were considered by many as the most organized and effective fighting force in Syria. Despite its official opposition toward the U.S., the group has not explicitly targeted U.S. assets since the 1990s.[4]

After the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, an extensive internal debate reportedly took place within Hezbollah concerning whether to focus on Lebanese politics at the expense of countering Israel. Nasrallah reportedly consulted with Iranian Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the decision. The group chose to continue carrying out attacks against Israeli military targets; Between 2000 and 2006, Hezbollah attacks along the “Blue Line” and in contested farming areas in the south killed seventeen Israeli soldiers. Six Israeli civilians were also killed in this period, five of whom were killed in a Palestinian operation that may have received assistance from Hezbollah.[5]

Hezbollah’s focus on Israel diminished during the Syrian Civil War, as the group’s resources were directed toward training Syrian militias and fighting for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Recently, though, Hezbollah has been preparing for future conflict with Israel. In 2018, the group began setting up cells and recruiting militants in the Syrian Golan Heights.[6]Later that year, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also discovered systems of underground tunnels that would allow Hezbollah militants to enter Israel undetected.[7]In 2019, Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah also announced that Hezbollah’s missile capabilities were advanced enough to reach any Israeli town or city.[8]



[1]Azani, Eitan. "The Hybrid Terrorist Organization: Hezbollah as a Case Study." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36.11 (2013): 907. Web.

[2]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 77. Print.

[3]“Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012

[4]Addis, Casey, and Christopher Blanchard. CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Hezbollah: Background and Issues for Congress. Rep. Congressional Research Service, 3 Jan. 2011: 5. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.

[5]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 90 Print.

[6]Kubovich, Yaniv. “Hezbollah Entrenching Itself in Syrian Golan, Establishing Terror Infrastructure, Israeli Army Says.” Haaretz, 13 Mar. 2019

[7]Staff, Toi and Judah Ari Gross. “IDF reveals longest, most significant Hezbollah tunnel on Northern border.” The Times of Israel, 30 May 2019

[8]Khoury, Jack. “Nasrallah Says Hezbollah Has Precision Missiles That Could Strike Targets Throughout Israel.” Haaretz, 01 Jun. 2019

 

 

 

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing, but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

Hezbollah is known for its attention-grabbing attacks worldwide, but authorities have foiled a number of Hezbollah operations across the globe. A plan to attack the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan was stopped before it reached fruition, as was a 2008 plan to target Israeli tourists and ships in the Suez Canal. Other disrupted plots may be unknown to the public.[1]

November 1982: Hezbollah member Ahmad Qasir carried out a truck bombing against an Israeli headquarters in Tyre, killing at least 75 Israelis and fourteen Arab prisoners (89+ killed, unknown wounded).[2]

April 19, 1983: A suicide bombing on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 63 people. The attack was attributed to militants of the Islamic Jihad, an early alias of Hezbollah (63 killed, unknown wounded).[3]

October 23 1983: Hezbollah carried out a suicide bombing on French and American military barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American and 58 French servicemen.[4]While it never claimed responsibility, analysts typically agree that Hezbollah carried out the attack.[5]The attack prompted President Reagan to withdraw all U.S. Marines from Lebanon.[6](299 killed, unknown wounded)

June 14, 1985: Hezbollah members hijacked TWA flight 847, holding hostages for weeks. The group killed one hostage before ultimately freed the rest in exchange for the release of 300 Lebanese prisoners in Israel (1 killed, unknown wounded).[7]

March 17, 1992: Hezbollah operatives carried out a truck bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing twenty-nine and wounding 242 (29 killed, 242 wounded).[8]

July 18, 1994: Hezbollah was implicated in the bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. The group denied responsibility (85 killed, 200+ wounded).[9]

June 25, 1996: Hezbollah bombed the American Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 (19 killed, unknown wounded).[10

February 14, 2005: In 2011, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicted four members of Hezbollah for the February 2005 car bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The attack also killed 20 others (21 killed, unknown wounded).[11]

July 12, 2006: Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight more, sparking a month-long war with Israel (8 killed, unknown wounded)[12]

January 2007: In January 2007, a Shia militant group attacked the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Iraq, killing five American soldiers. The United States claims that Hezbollah helped plan and provide resources for the attack. (5 killed, unknown wounded).[13]

May 2008: Hezbollah took over parts of Beirut after the government called for the group to disarm, giving rise to street violence and causing over 60 deaths.[14]The government then entered negotiations with Hezbollah, and the resulting agreement gave Hezbollah veto power in the national cabinet (60 killed, unknown wounded).[15]

May 2011: Hezbollah carried out two attacks against UN Interim Forces in Lebanon in late May 2011 (0 killed, 11 wounded).[16]

July 18, 2012: Hezbollah’s international wing bombed an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria, killing five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver. This was the first successful attack in a campaign to increase global operations beginning around 2008. Hezbollah denies responsibility for the bombing (6 killed, unknown wounded).[17]

May 29, 2013: Hezbollah collaborated with and led the Syrian Army in their attack on al-Qusayr, a rebel stronghold. This was the group’s first major activity in the Syrian Civil War after months of rumored involvement. Hezbollah and the Syrian Army were victorious, marking a turning point in the war in which Assad began to regain control of key strategic territory (casualties unknown).[18]

January 28, 2015: Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli soldiers in the disputed Har Dov area between Lebanon and Syria, killing two. In a separate border incident on the same day between Israel and Hezbollah, a UN Interim Force member was killed (3 killed, 7+ wounded).[19]

May 2015: During the final two weeks of May 2015, Hezbollah forces were engaged in heavy fighting against Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State forces across the Qalamoun mountain range in western Syria. By early June, Hezbollah had recaptured much of the mountain range and reopened a path from Lebanon into Syria (casualties unknown).[20]

April 2, 2016: Hezbollah and Syrian government forces clashed with Syrian rebel troops belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Free Syrian Army near the village of Tal al-Ais outside of Aleppo. Eight Hezbollah troops were killed in addition to 25 pro-Assad forces and 18 rebels (51 killed, unknown wounded).[21]

November 2017: Hezbollah led an offensive against the Islamic State in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, inflicting heavy civilian casualties. Hezbollah fought alongside Iran-sponsored Iraqi Shia militias supported by Russian airstrikes (50+ killed, unknown wounded).[22]

February-April 2018: Hezbollah and Syrian forces launched an assault on Ghouta, Syria. Hezbollah reportedly sent at least 3,000 troops to fight, at least 100 of which were killed. As of March 2018, 1,100 civilians have been killed in the fighting (1,200+ killed, unknown wounded).[23]

June 2018: A senior Hezbollah field officer executed 23 Syrian soldiers after they refused to cross a bridge exposed to rebel fire – nicknamed the "Death Bridge" –  near the town of Hirbat Ghazala (23 killed, 0 wounded).[24]



[1]"Hizballah." Terrorist Groups. National Counterterrorism Center. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

[2]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 80 Print.

[3]"Terrorist Attacks against Americans, 1979-1988." Frontline: Target America. PBS, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014; "Incident 198304180001." Global Terrorism Database. University of Maryland, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.

[4]Worth, Robert. "Hezbollah’s Rise Amid Chaos." New York Times. N.p., 15 Jan. 2011. Web. 26 June 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/weekinreview/16worth.html>; "Incident 198310230007." Global Terrorism Database. University of Maryland, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014; "Incident 198310230008." Global Terrorism Database. University of Maryland, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.

[5]Azani, Eitan. "The Hybrid Terrorist Organization: Hezbollah as a Case Study." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36.11 (2013): 906. Web; "Terrorist Attacks against Americans, 1979-1988." Frontline: Target America. PBS, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.

[6]Masters, Johnathan, and Zachary Laub. "Hezbollah." Backgrounders. Council on Foreign Relations, 3 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 June 2014.

[7]“Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012; Pearson, Erica. The Sage Encyclopedia of Terrorism. Ed. Gus Martin. Second ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications, 2011. 595-6. Print.

[8]United States. U.S. Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1992. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2014.

[9]United States. U.S. Department of State. Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1994. N.p., Apr. 1995. Web. 27 June 2014; Barrionuevo, Alexei. "Inquiry on 1994 Blast at Argentina Jewish Center Gets New Life." The New York Times. 17 July 2009. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

[10]Leonnig, Carol D. "Iran Held Liable In Khobar Attack." Washington Post. N.p., 23 Dec. 2006. Web. 27 June 2014; "Incident 199606250006." Global Terrorism Database. University of Maryland, n.d. Web. 27 June 2014.

[11]"UN Tribunal Releases Hariri Indictment." Al Jazeera English. 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 9 Apr. 2015; Bergman, Ronen. "The Hezbollah Connection." The New York Times. 14 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

[12]“Terrorist Organization Profile: Hizballah.” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland. Accessed 26 June 2014. https://www.start.umd.edu/baad/database/hizballah-2012

[13]“Maliki Government's Whitewashing of Hezbollah” The Washington Institute. 20 November, 2012.

[14]United States. U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Counterterrorism. Country Report on Terrorism 2009. N.p., 5 Aug. 2010. Web. 27 June 2014.

[15]"Lebanon Rivals Agree Crisis Deal." BBC News. BBC, 21 May 2008. Web. 26 June 2014.

[16]United States. U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Counterterrorism. Country Report on Terrorism 2017. N.p., 19 Sep. 2018.

[17]Levitt, Matthew. "Hizb Allah Resurrected: The Party of God's Return to Tradecraft." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. 29 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2015; Kulish, Nicholas, Eric Schmitt, and Matthew Brunwasser. "Bulgaria Implicates Hezbollah in July Attack on Israelis." The New York Times. N.p., 05 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

[18]Blanford, Nicholas. "The Battle for Qusayr: How the Syrian Regime and Hizb Allah Tipped the Balance." CTC Sentinel 6.8 (2013): 18-22. Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point. Web. 25 June 2014; Sullivan, Marisa. "Hezbollah in Syria." Middle East Security Report 19 (Apr. 2014): n. pag. Institute for the Study of War. Web. 26 June 2014; Lebanon’s Hizbollah Turns Eastward to Syria. Publication. International Crisis Group, 27 May 2014. Web. 25 June 2014.

[19]Levs, Josh. "2 Israeli Soldiers, Peacekeeper Killed in Israel-Hezbollah Fighting - CNN.com." CNN. 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

[20]Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016.

[21]“Eight Hezbollah fighters killed in Aleppo clashes over weekend.” The Daily Star Lebanon, 4 April 2016. Web. 20 April 2016.

[22]“Hezbollah-led offensive stalls in ‘last city inSyria.”Middle East Eye, 13 Nov. 2017

[23]Perry, Smadar. “Hezbollah forces participating in Gouta massacre.” Ynetnews, 03 Dec. 2018

[24]Julian, Hana Levi. “Hezbollah Executes 23 Syrian Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight” The Jewish Press, 19 Jun. 2018.

 


 

 

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

    Designated/Listed
  • Designated/Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Designated/Listed

  • U.S. State Department: October 8, 1997 to present[1]
  • Government of Canada: December 10, 2002 to present[2]
  • Australian National Security designated Hezbollah’s External Security Organization (ESO)as a terrorist entity: June 5, 2003 to present[3]
  • Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans stated that the Government of the Netherlands considered Hezbollah a terrorist organization on June 2, 2013[4]
  • New Zealand Police designated the “military wing” of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization: October 11, 2010 to present[5]
  • Government of Bahrain: April 9, 2013 to present[6]
  • The European Union designated the “military wing” of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization: July 22, 2013 to present[7]
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): March 2, 2013 to present[8]
  • Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including Saudi Arabia, placed 10 Hezbollah leaders on their government terrorism lists: May 17, 2018 to present[9]
  • Arab League: March 11, 2016 to present[10]
  • The Government of the United Kingdom designated Hezbollah’s External Security Organization as a terrorist group: 2001 to present[11]
  • The Government of the United Kingdom designated “the whole of Hizballah’s military apparatus, namely the Jihad Council and all the units reporting to it” as a terrorist group: 2008 to present[12]
  • The Government of the United Kingdom designated the entirety of Hezbollah as a terrorist group: March 2019[13]
  • Government of Argentina: July 18, 2019 to present[14]
  • Lebanon does not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization.[15][KNR1]


[1]"Foreign Terrorist Organizations." Bureau of Counterterrorism. U.S. Department of State, n.d. Web. 25 June 2014.

[2]“Currently listed entities.” Public Saftey Canada, Government of Canada. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt...

[3]“Hizballah's External Security Organisation (ESO).” Australian National Security, Australian Government. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/HizballahsExternalSecurityOrganisationESO.aspx

[4]Timmermans: ‘Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.’ Government of the Netherlands. 2 June 2013.

[5]“Lists associated with Resolutions 1267/1989/2253 and 1988.” New Zealand Police. 21 May 2019. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-community/counterterrorism/designated-entities/lists-associated-with-resolutions-1267-1989-2253-1988

[6]“Bahrain first Arab country to blacklist Hezbollah as terrorist organization.”Al Arabiya, 9 April 2013. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/04/09/Bahrain-first-Arab-country-to-blacklist-Hezbollah-as-terrorist-organization.html

[7]“EU terrorist list.” European Council, Council of the European Union. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/fight-against-terrorism/terr...

[8]Al-Tamimi, Sultan. “GCC: Hezbollah terror group.” Arab News. 3 June 2013. Accessed 19 July 2019. http://www.arabnews.com/news/453834

[9]“GCC members put Hezbollah leaders on terror list.” Reuters. 17 May 2018. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/gcc-members-put-hezbollah-leaders-on-terror-list-1.2222763

[10]“Arab League labels Hezbollah terrorist organization.” Reuters. 11 March 2016. Accssed 18 July 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-arabs/arab-league-labe...

[11]“Proscribed terrorist groups or organisations.” Government of the United Kingdom. Last updated 12 April 2019. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-o...

[12]“Proscribed terrorist groups or organisations.” Government of the United Kingdom. Last updated 12 April 2019. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-o...

[13]“Proscribed terrorist groups or organisations.” Government of the United Kingdom. Last updated 12 April 2019. Accessed 18 July 2019. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-o...

[14]“Registro Público de Personas y Entidades vinculadas a actos de Terrorismo y su Financiamiento.” Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Office of the Presidency, Government of Argentina. Accesed 18 July 2019. https://repet.jus.gob.ar; “Argentina Designates Hezbollah Terrorist Group on 25th Anniversary of Bombing.” New York Times. 18 July 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/world/americas/argentina-hezbollah-te...

[15]Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. Rep. Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, July 2017. https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/crt_2016.pdf

 

 

Community Relations

After World War II, the Shia became a marginalized group in Lebanon. They bore of the struggle with Israel, suffered poor economic conditions, and traditionally wielded little political power.[1]The Lebanese government also regularly ignored civilian needs in the Shia-dominated south.[2]The state grew particularly ineffective as a service provider during the Lebanese Civil War. It was during this time that civil service organizations, including Hezbollah, developed a reputation for providing necessary services to Shiite Lebanese citizens.[3]

While the exact date Hezbollah first became involved in social services is not known, it earned a reputation as a movement of the poor early in the 1980s.[4]Hezbollah is now deeply ingrained in Lebanese Shia society. It has used social outreach to cement the political support of the Shia community, recruit new members, and spread its interpretation of Islam.[5]Hezbollah has provided a number of social services throughout Lebanon, most of which have been concentrated in the south. The group has operated schools, clinics, and hospitals. It has also collected garbage, provided credit assistance, and delivered drinking water.[6]In 2006, it was estimated that Hezbollah’s schools assisted about 14,000 students.[7]

Hezbollah’s social services sector is composed of multiple NGOs grouped under three branches: the Social Unit, the Islamic Health Unit, and the Education Unit. The work of the Social Unit spans across a number of areas, from the construction of neighborhood infrastructure to the assistance of the families of killed Hezbollah militants. The Islamic Health Unit operates a number of hospitals, clinics, and social health programs. The Education Unit oversees schools and provides tuition scholarships to gifted students.[8]

Hezbollah also builds local trust by providing humanitarian assistance in the wake of Israeli attacks. In 1996, the group claimed to have rebuilt 5,000 homes in 82 villages after an Israeli attack. After the 2006 war with Israel, the group suspended its military efforts to provide reconstruction and social services to Lebanese citizens. Hezbollah has often advertised their health services to the Lebanese population after an Israeli attack and has received heightened media coverage in turn.[9]While Hezbollah targets the Shia community with its services, the organization’s efforts also reach members of other Lebanese sects.[10]

Though its relations with the Shia population remain positive, Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian Civil War has worsened its relationship with Lebanon’s Sunni population. Many Lebanese Sunnis initially supported the Syrian opposition, most of which was composed of Sunni militias. Hezbollah’s support of the Assad regime has driven many Lebanese Sunnis to turn away from Hezbollah. Some Sunnis near Tripoli have adopted a radicalized, anti-Hezbollah agenda and mounted attacks in Hezbollah territory. The most recent of these attacks took place in November 2015 and resulted in the death of 43 people.[11]

Recent 2018 sanctions on Iran – Hezbollah’s primary patron – have affected the group’s ability to serve the Lebanese population. The group has frozen all financing, merged several institutions, and closed hundreds of offices and apartments in Lebanon.[12]Hezbollah’s social services budget has also decreased, following an early reduction in 2013. Although Hezbollah gains support from the community by carrying out social services, it also is criticized by many in Lebanese society for its role in inciting Israeli attacks.[13]

 



[1]Flanigan, Shawn Teresa, and Mounah Abdel-Samad. "Hezbollah's Social Jihad: Nonprofits As Resistance Organizations." Middle East Policy16.2 (2009): 126. Wiley Online Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[2]Tavernise, Sabrina. "Charity Wins Deep Loyalty for Hezbollah." The New York Times. 5 Aug. 2006. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

[3]Cammett, Melani. "Habitat for Hezbollah." Habitat for Hezbollah Comments. Foreign Policy, 17 Aug. 2006. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

[4]Flanigan, Shawn Teresa, and Mounah Abdel-Samad. "Hezbollah's Social Jihad: Nonprofits As Resistance Organizations." Middle East Policy16.2 (2009): 122-37. Wiley Online Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[5]Azani, Eitan. "The Hybrid Terrorist Organization: Hezbollah as a Case Study." Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36.11 (2013): 904. Web.

[6]Canter, James, and Jodi Rudorin. "European Union Adds Military Wing of Hezbollah to List of Terrorist Organizations." N.p., n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.

[7]Flanigan, Shawn Teresa, and Mounah Abdel-Samad. "Hezbollah's Social Jihad: Nonprofits As Resistance Organizations." Middle East Policy16.2 (2009): 126-9. Wiley Online Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[8]Flanigan, Shawn Teresa, and Mounah Abdel-Samad. "Hezbollah's Social Jihad: Nonprofits As Resistance Organizations." Middle East Policy16.2 (2009): 125. Wiley Online Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[9]Flanigan, Shawn Teresa, and Mounah Abdel-Samad. "Hezbollah's Social Jihad: Nonprofits As Resistance Organizations." Middle East Policy16.2 (2009): 126. Wiley Online Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[10]Cammett, Melani. "Habitat for Hezbollah." Habitat for Hezbollah Comments. Foreign Policy, 17 Aug. 2006. Web. 20 Feb. 2015; Flanigan, Shawn Teresa, and Mounah Abdel-Samad. "Hezbollah's Social Jihad: Nonprofits As Resistance Organizations." Middle East Policy16.2 (2009): 127-129. Wiley Online Library. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[11]Anderson, Sulome. “Hezbollah Is the Real Winner of the Battle of Aleppo.” Newsweek,09 Jan. 2017

[12]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

[13]Cammett, Melani. "Habitat for Hezbollah." Habitat for Hezbollah Comments. Foreign Policy, 17 Aug. 2006. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

 

Relationships with Other Groups

Hezbollah has had a complicated relationship with Amal since it originally splintered from the group. As Hezbollah expanded, it came into direct competition and conflict with Amal. Whereas Amal operated as a secular and reformist organization, Hezbollah mirrored Iran’s model of clerical rule..[1]Amal also chose to cooperate with the Maronite and Sunni factions from Northern Lebanon, while Hezbollah preferred to work outside the existing political system.  Finally, whereas Amal received the majority of its funding from the Assad Regime in Syria, Hezbollah was financed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and clashed with the Syrian-backed Christian and Sunni groups from northern Lebanon. Competing over the support of southern Lebanon’s Shia population, Amal and Hezbollah came into direct conflict during the 1980s. The most prominent conflict arose in 1988 when they clashed over the kidnapping of U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel William R. Higgins, leading to a lasting feud between the two groups.[2]

The end of the Lebanese shifted the nature of the relationship between Amal and Hezbollah. Amal surrendered its arms following the civil war, while Hezbollah remained the only armed Lebanese militia. This changed the relationship between the two groups; Hezbollah’s decision to remain armed allowed them to become the most important non-state actor in the region, passing Amal. Since the 1990s, the groups have often worked together. For example, an Amal-Hezbollah bloc won all parliamentary seats in southern Lebanon in the 2000 national elections.[3]Although signs of traditional competition and rivalry remain between the two groups, necessary alliance and accommodation are required to face mutual political opponents. 

As Hezbollah gains increasing experience, it has trained and assisted Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Al-Aqsa Martyrs and Hamas. Hezbollah has a special unit – Unit 1800, or the “Nun Unit – solely responsible for supporting Palestinian militants.[4]It also maintains close ties with Hamas, providing financial support and military training to its armed branch. Some analysts claim that Hezbollah has acted as “a role model” for Hamas due to its own political success.[5]In 2019, Hezbollah financed a radio tower based in Hamas-controlled Gaza in 2019 with the power to broadcast into Israeli territory.[6]

Hezbollah has had a troubled relationship with Sunni militant groups. In April 2006, Al Qaeda attempted to assassinate Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah because of his frequent condemnations AQ attacks.[7]In 2013, Hezbollah began sending fighters to Syria to assist Assad’s army in the fight against Sunni rebel groups, including the Islamic State, Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and elements of the Free Syrian Army.[8]

In Iraq, Hezbollah has sustained relationships with several Shiite militant groups, including the Mahdi Army (now known as the Peace Brigades), the Dawa Party, and the Badr Organization.[9] These groups have significant experience training and cooperating with Hezbollah. Hezbollah was particularly instrumental in training the initial members of these groups following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.[10]Hezbollah created Unit 3800 in 2003 with the purpose of supporting Iraqi Shiite militant groups targeting American forces. According to U.S. intelligence, Unit 3800 sent personnel to Iraq with the purpose of training hundreds of Shia militants.[11]Hezbollah supplied the militants with funds and weapons. The Hezbollah sponsored groups were instrumental in planning several attacks in Iraq, including the 2007 attack on the Karbala Joint Coordination Center, which caused deaths of five Americans.[12]

After 2014, Hezbollah also became increasingly involved in the insurgency in Iraq, sending aid and military advisors to Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitaries. The two most prominent recipients of Hezbollah aid in Iraq were Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq (AAH) and Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH).[13]Hezbollah has helped finance and train both KH and AAH since their inception in the mid-2000s. Hezbollah has also fought alongside AAH and KH militants in the Syrian Civil War.[14]

Since 2014, Unit 3800 has primarily been put to work in Yemen. There, Hezbollah militants have helped Houthis, a Shiite rebel group,  conduct insurgencies against Yemen’s government.[15]

Hezbollah was initially involved in transferring funds and training Shiite insurgents.[16]Hezbollah later began sending militants to the region as the war progressed. In 2018, eight Hezbollah militants were killed in northwest Yemen, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.[17]Most recently, Houthi-affiliated radio stations in Yemen have been collecting donations for Hezbollah, with some campaigns raising over $130,000.[18]These donations are meant to counter recent U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah and Iran. 

 

 



[1]Norton, August Richard. “The Role of Hezbollah in Lebanese Domestic Politics.” The International Spector, 06 Dec. 2007

[2]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 43. Print.

[3]Norton, Augustus R. Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 102. Print.

[4]"Press Center." Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Leadership. U.S. Department of Treasury, 22 Aug. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

[5]Sharp, Jeremy. Lebanon: The Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah Conflict. Rep. no. RL33566. 33. Congressional Research Service, 2006. CRS Report for Congress.

[6]Staff, Toi. “Hamas starts broadcasting into Israel, with a little help from Hezbollah.” The Times of Israel, 13 Jan. 2019

[7]Wright, Robin. "Inside the Mind of Hezbollah." Washington Post. N.p., 16 July 2006. Web. 27 June 2014.

[8]Barnard, Anne. "By Inserting Itself Into Syrian War, Hezbollah Makes Dramatic Gamble." New York Times 27 May 2013: n. pag. New York Times. Web. 25 June 2014.

[9]Levitt, Matthew. Hezbollah : The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God. Georgetown University Press, 2013.

[10]Cochrane, Marisa. “Iraq Report 12: The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement.” Institute for the Study of War, June 2009. 18 July 2014; Roggio, Bill, "Mugniyah Behind Establishment of Mahdi Army." The Long War Journal,23 February 2008. Web. 10 July 2010.

[11]Levitt, Matthew and Nadav Pollak. “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long War.” The Washington Institute, 25 Jun. 2014

[12]Levitt, Matthew and Nadav Pollak. “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long War.” The Washington Institute, 25 Jun. 2014

[13]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016.

[14]Wyer, Sam. “The Resurgence of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.” Middle East Security Report 7, Institute for the Study of War, December 2012. Web. 30 July 2015; Samaha, Nour. “Hezbollah Is ‘Stronger Than Ever.’” Foreign Policy, 1 June 2015. Web. 20 April 2016.

[15]Levitt, Matthew and Nadav Pollak. “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long War.” The Washington Institute, 25 Jun. 2014

[16]Levitt, Matthew and Nadav Pollak. “Hezbollah in Iraq: A Little Help Can Go a Long War.” The Washington Institute, 25 Jun. 2014

[17]Riyadh, Aden. “Eight Hezbollah fighters killed in Yemen.” The Daily Star,26 Jun. 2018

[18]Hatem, Mohammed. “Radio Station in War-Torn Yemen Raises $132,000 for Hezbollah” Bloomberg, 6 Jul. 2019

 

State Sponsors and External Influences

Although Hezbollah has close ties to Iran and the Syrian government, its relationship to both nations has fluctuated over time. The level of financial support that Hezbollah receives from Iran has largely depended on those in power in Iran. For example, Iranian funding to Hezbollah was generous under Ayatollah Khomeini, who is often credited with Hezbollah’s inception. However, funding for Hezbollah decreased dramatically for a period after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989.[1]The 2018 American sanctions imposed on Iran have also recently hindered the country’s ability to finance Hezbollah.[2]

Hezbollah has also had a complicated relationship with Syria. During the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s, Hezbollah and Syrian Army units clashed multiple times in the border areas between Lebanon and Syria.[3]Hezbollah also often came into conflict with the Shia group Amal, which was financed and supported by Syria. After Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005, however, Hezbollah believed its relationship with Syria was crucial to its continued resistance against Israel.[4]Hezbollah’s 2013 participation in the Syrian war awarded them the upper hand in their relationship with Assad. These have exploited this advantage by pursuing political aims in Syria, such as establishing terror cells in the Golan Heights. [5]

 


[1]Szekely, Ora. "Hezbollah's Survival: Resources And Relationships." Middle East Policy 19.4 (2012): 115-116. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 June 2014.

[2]Ghaddar,Hanin. “U.S. Sanctions are Hurting Hezbollah.” The Washington Institute,06 Mar. 2019

[3]Szekely, Ora. "Hezbollah's Survival: Resources And Relationships." Middle East Policy 19.4 (2012): 115-116. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 June 2014.

[4]Ali, Mohanad Hage. “Defining the Syria-Hezbollah Relationship.” Carnegie Middle East Center, 29 Mar. 2019

[5]Ali, Mohanad Hage. “Defining the Syria-Hezbollah Relationship.” Carnegie Middle East Center, 29 Mar. 2019

 

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.