JERUSALEM—Two years after its victory in the Second Lebanon war, Hezbollah has more than recovered the strength it had in 2006. But Israel isn’t its only target. The terrorist group’s international capabilities, according to several analysts, are greater than al Qaeda’s ever were.
Hezbollah’s international abilities are yet another terrorist weapon Iran can use in its goal of capturing Jerusalem.
The Threat to the West
Founded in 1982, Hezbollah has a long history of attacks against Western targets. Hezbollah agents killed a total of 83 people in the two bombings of the United States Embassy in Beirut, in 1983 and 1984. They killed 241 American servicemen in the October 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines barracks. During the Lebanon Civil War, 36 attacks were made in Lebanon against American, Israeli and Lebanese targets, killing a total of 659; Hezbollah is accused of plotting many of these attacks.
In Argentina, Hezbollah terrorists killed 22 when they bombed the Israeli Embassy in 1992. They killed 85 and wounded 200 in their attack on the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires in July 1994.
Today, Hezbollah is more powerful than ever, according to Fred Burton, the former deputy chief of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service counterterrorism division, and the current vice president for counterterrorism and corporate security at Stratfor. “Hezbollah also is now far larger and more geographically widespread than ever before,” Burton and fellow analyst Scott Stewart wrote late last year.
Burton and Stewart also state that Hezbollah is more powerful than al Qaeda ever was. “[T]hanks to Iran, Hezbollah has far more—and better-trained—operational cadre than al Qaeda ever had. The Hezbollah cadre also is experienced in skullduggery, having conducted scores of transnational terrorist operations before al Qaeda was even formed …. Iranian state sponsorship provides Hezbollah with a support network that al Qaeda can only dream of” (Oct. 31, 2007).
The U.S. may have defeated al Qaeda in Iraq, but meanwhile an even greater threat has been allowed to blossom in Lebanon.
The Iranian Connection
Many now admit that much of al Qaeda’s success lay in its broad connections with sundry state governments. Al Qaeda had links with the governments of Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq, among others. But where al Qaeda is tied to these nations, Hezbollah is welded to its state backer: Iran, one of the West’s worst enemies.
“Iran is Hezbollah’s real strategic partner,” Dr. Jonathan Spyer, senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, told the Trumpet. “I don’t think it’s so simple to say that Iran snaps its fingers and Hezbollah does what it’s told. Hezbollah is a genuine Lebanese political organization. But ultimately Hezbollah is only possible because of Iranian support; Iranian support is key.” Nothing big happens in Hezbollah’s world without the group first running the plan past Iran’s grand ayatollah, Spyer says.
Many of the men in charge of Hezbollah have been trained in Iran. They share the Iranians’ radical ideology. Iran funds them. It gives them their weapons. In fact, Hezbollah was created out of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Although within Lebanon Hezbollah has to avoid being branded an Iranian puppet, internationally Hezbollah works closely with Iran.
If Iran is attacked, Tehran has the ability to use Hezbollah in retaliation. A strong, united U.S. or Israel might be able to cope with such a strike, but both countries are far from being united. A strike from Hezbollah, or even the threat of it, could have a devastating impact on a weak-willed, divided America.
“If there is going to be an attack against Iran, even if the United States isn’t involved, if it’s just done by Israel, I think Iran will try to attack U.S. interests in the region, if not directly, then through their proxies,” Meir Javedanfar, author of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran, said. “They will want to make Israel a very, very expensive liability for the U.S.”
According to Spyer, Hezbollah used help from the Iranian Embassy for its attack on the Jewish Community Center in Argentina. The Hezbollah-Iran relationship works both ways: Iran can use Hezbollah against the West, and Hezbollah can use state-level assets, including Iranian intelligence and embassies, to increase its power and terror.
The Threat to Israel
Hezbollah is entrenched in Lebanon, just across Israel’s northern border. Since the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has been rebuilding and rearming. After the war, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (unifil) was notionally there to stop Hezbollah from rebuilding, pursuant to UN Resolution 1701. Unfortunately for Israel, unifil has not been doing its job.
“Resolution 1701 was supposed to limit [the] actions of Hezbollah, and prevent it from rearming,” outgoing Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Gillerman said. “It did not achieve that. Hezbollah today has rearmed to the point that it is possibly even better equipped than it was before the war. The resolution also imposed an embargo on arms shipments to militias in Lebanon—namely Hezbollah—which was a huge achievement, but that wasn’t implemented either.”
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also admitted, “UN Resolution 1701 is not being implemented.”
“One of the things mentioned in 1701 is that militants are meant to be disarmed and that measures are meant to be taken against the smuggling of weaponry,” Spyer says. However, unifil does not stop Hezbollah moving arms around the south of Lebanon. And in the east, according to Spyer, it is not fulfilling its mandate at all. “Weapons are pouring across the eastern border,” he says.
The United Nations has a terrible track record in the region. In the past, it has probably done more to help Hezbollah terrorists than to hinder them. In the Oct. 7, 2000, kidnappings of three Israeli soldiers at Shebaa Farms, according to Israel Defense Forces Reserve Col. Kobi Marom, Hezbollah paid the Indian contingent of the UN force to help them in the attack. The Indians allowed Hezbollah to occupy UN positions, according to Marom, and Israel has video evidence to prove it. Even an Indian soldier in the area admitted that unifil “could have prevented the kidnapping.”
At the time, Israel believed that Hezbollah only made small payments to bribe a few soldiers. As they investigated the incident, however, Israeli officials were shocked to discover that Hezbollah had paid the Indian soldiers hundreds of thousands of dollars. “The event that occurred in Lebanon serves as a big red light against all involvement of international forces in our conflict,” then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said. “If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that we should not involve foreign forces in our region.”
But Israel has forgotten that lesson, learned so recently.
In the absence of effective measures by unifil, Hezbollah has rearmed. They now have a third more missiles than they had before the Second Lebanon War. And the range of many of these missiles extends far beyond the northern parts of Israel, reaching over the whole country and down into the Negev.
The Sunday Times reported that Hezbollah also now has significant anti-aircraft capabilities. Advanced Syrian sa-8 anti-aircraft missiles now “threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon,” the Times said. During the last war with Hezbollah, Israel relied heavily on air cover to try to minimize casualties. If it ever summons the will to fight Hezbollah again, it will find it more costly.
Hezbollah and Jerusalem
Hezbollah began by fighting Israel inside Lebanon. When Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah fought Israel inside Israel. And this didn’t just happen on the northern border. Between 2000 and 2004, they focused their main efforts on supporting the Palestinian Arabs in the second intifada. In fact, Hezbollah carried out 80 to 90 percent of attacks within Israeli cities at the time. There are even reports that Hezbollah worked so closely with Hamas that Hezbollah directed many of their operations. With a vast array of missiles at home, a powerful and proven capability to carry out terror attacks abroad, and strong links to their radical patron, Hezbollah is a key component in Iran’s fight for Jerusalem.
Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hezbollah all receive funding from Iran. All working together, the trio could wreak havoc inside Israel and reduce American involvement in the region to a pittance.
“Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the twelfth imam, the Mahdi,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said. He sees the Madhi’s return as something that can be brought about by men. According to Shiite tradition, Jerusalem is the headquarters from which the Madhi will subjugate the world. If Ahmadinejad wants the Madhi, therefore, he must have Jerusalem (Dore Gold, The Fight for Jerusalem).
According to the real power in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iran wants a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Khamenei has also made it clear that Hezbollah has an important part to play in the capture of what Muslims consider one of their holy cities. “In the 33-day war, the Lebanese Hezbollah destroyed at least 50 percent of Israel [and therefore] half the path to the liberation of Jerusalem,” he wrote in an article published on Iran’s Quds (Jerusalem) Day, 2006. Hezbollah shares the same religious ideology as Iran’s supreme leader. They too want to “liberate” Jerusalem. Iran sees all of Hezbollah’s fighting in Lebanon as clearing the road to Jerusalem.
Intelligence analyst Joseph de Courcy wrote in the Islamic Affairs Analyst several years ago, “Subscribers should be in absolutely no doubt about this. From Iran’s support for subversion in Bahrain, through its improving ties with Egypt, its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamist revolutionaries in Khartoum, to its close strategic alliance with Moscow, everything has the same ultimate purpose: the liberation of Jerusalem from under the Zionist yoke.”
Jerusalem is Iran’s ultimate goal. Hezbollah’s purpose is to help Iran reach that goal.
Jerusalem will soon be the flashpoint for the world’s greatest suffering—but soon after it will become the seed of the world’s greatest hope. Radical Islam lusts after Jerusalem, and its states and terrorist proxies will soon make a grab for it, Bible prophecy indicates. The Bible says that radical Islam will in fact violently conquer half of the city. But Islam is not the only power that wants Jerusalem. The Catholics also want it; and the conflict between the two will be a bloodbath.
Yet Jerusalem has a future unlike anywhere else. Not only will Jerusalem be the trigger for the worst war ever, but after that it will be the location from which God Himself will rule the Earth, and eventually the universe! There is no city on Earth like it. For a dire warning—and for unparalleled hope in the ultimate future—continue to watch Jerusalem.
For more information, see our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy. •