Hizballah: Iran’s Other Looming Threat to the West

timthumb (2)By Clare Lopez:

Exclusive to Accuracy in Media.

The single most important fact to understand about Hizballah is that its chain of command goes directly to the Iranian Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, by way of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Qods Force. That Iranian connection, as well as Hizballah’s close and long-standing relationship with al-Qa’eda, the global reach of this Shi’ite jihadist group, and above all, its extensive presence and criminal activities in the Western Hemisphere, including inside the United States, all merit a closer look. With U.S. national security directly in Hizballah’s cross-hairs, it’s more important than ever to understand what this group is, who leads it, what has motivated them along a bloody 30-year trail of terrorism, and what damage this group is capable of inflicting on American interests.

For even as Hizballah is an Islamic terror organization, an Iranian proxy for power projection, a Transnational Criminal Organization, and a Lebanese military, political, and social domestic entity, it is above all a direct threat to U.S. national security. After all, and despite a complete media blackout on the topic that prevails to this day, on Iranian orders and working together with al-Qa’eda, Hizballah participated in the worst strike ever against the American homeland: the attacks of 9/11. There is no threshold, ideological or otherwise, that Hizballah has not already crossed or would not cross again, given a direct order from Tehran.

images-1Word out of London in late 2013 is that the U.S. is engaged in secret, indirect negotiations with Hizballah, with British diplomats acting as intermediaries. Those talks followed closely on the U.S. capitulation to Iran over its nuclear weapons program during November 2013 discussions in Geneva and reflect a White House policy of seeking to normalize relations with the regime designated by the Department of State as the number one global state sponsor of terror. Hizballah remains a designated terror organization on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list. And while the story about the U.S.-Hizballah talks in London made the Israeli and U.K. media, not one major U.S. media outlet thought it significant to report that the U.S. administration is reaching out to mend relations with what many describe as the most dangerous Islamic terror organization in the world.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called Hizballah the “A Team” and al-Qa’eda the “B Team.” Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that Hizballah makes “al-Qa’eda look like a minor league team.” And former CIA Director George Tenet testified in 2003 that Hizballah was every bit al-Qa’eda’s “equal, if not a far more capable organization.”

And yet, since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the biggest share of counterterrorism bandwidth among national security agencies and the media alike has been devoted to al-Qa’eda “and its affiliates,” as they’re often called. Current internecine civil war in Syria aside, for many years Hizballah happens to have been one of those affiliates, but many would never know that from either the media coverage or official government attention paid to this Shi’ite jihadist group that works mostly for the Iranian mullahs. So, when it’s discussed at all, as on each year’s remembrance of the October 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, Hizballah continues to be thought of primarily as a Lebanese terror outfit. However, as Tony Badran pointed out in an important historical look back in his November 25, 2013 Weekly Standard essay, “The Secret History of Hezbollah,” a critical Iranian connection has been there from the beginning.

Media coverage of the Syrian civil war that broke out in 2011 often cites Hizballah as somehow mixed up in supporting the Ba’athist regime of Bashar al-Assad against a conglomeration of al-Qa’eda- and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated militias. But what that coverage often ignores is that Hizballah’s contribution of thousands of fighters to the survival of the Assad regime is not necessarily in the best interests (or any interests) of Hizballah’s supposed home team, the Lebanese Shi’ites. The reason Hizballah fights on, even after its Syrian adventures have drawn probable Sunni al-Qa’eda retaliation deep into the very heart of its Beirut stronghold in the Dahiyeh, is because Iran wants it to.

Read more: Family Security Matters 

‘Rushing’ to War with Iran?

AyatollahAliKhamen_2162837b-450x346by :

In November, there was some talk of “a march (or rush) to war” against Iran.

The Obama Administration used this line to dismiss those – including EMET – who dared to disbelieve the sincerity of negotiations regarding the Iranian regime’s program to develop nuclear weapons, and seek to expand U.S. sanctions against that nation so as to keep the pressure on them to prove their sincerity.

The major problem with this charge is that Iran and the U.S. are already at war.  And every few years, Iran or its proxies (most especially Hezbollah) conducts another hostile act, which results in the death or harming of Americans.

Here are just some of the acts of war Iran has conducted against the U.S.

In 1979, Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy, and took 52 (originally 66) of its personnel hostage for 444 days.  Iranian Foreign Minister I. Yazdi, along with other Iranian officials, indicated official Iranian support for the seizure when he said, “The action of the students enjoys the endorsement and support of the government.”  Reza Kahlili describes the seizure in his book A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran:

This was not a rout.  It was not an act of passion.  It seemed too managed for that.  The people who rushed in seemed to know one another and to know what to do.  Military members of the Guards arrived quickly.  I wondered how they heard about the break-in so fast.  Then the Komiteh, the religious police recently given official status by Khomeini, came and promised to keep order.  But the only thing they kept orderly was the takeover itself.  Busloads of people arrived and joined the demonstration, another sign that this gathering was not spontaneous.  Within minutes, the protesters controlled the compound.

For its illegal actions, the Iranian regime was cited by the International Court of Justice and by the U.N. through two U.N. Resolutions for its violation of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 the international treaty that governs diplomatic immunity.

Iran set up, continues to support, and often directs, Hezbollah, a State Department-listed Lebanese terror group that has kidnapped, tortured, harmed, and/or killed Americans.  In 1983, Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut and killed 241 American servicemen who were sent to Lebanon for peacekeeping purposes.  Hezbollah is believed to have kidnapped and tortured to death U.S. Army colonel William Higgins and the CIA Station Chief in Beirut, William Buckley.  It kidnapped around 30 other Westerners between 1982 and 1992.  Imad Mughniyah, a former senior Hezbollah leader, was, prior to 911, “responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any other terrorist.”  He and two other members of Hezbollah, Hasan Izz-al-Din, and Ali Atwa, were on the FBI’s list of 22 Most Wanted Terrorists for the hijacking in 1985 of TWA Flight 847 during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered.  In 2007, Hezbollah operative Ali Mussa Daqduq allegedly played a significant role in the killings of five U.S. soldiers in Iraq.  In 2011, the U.S. government seized drug profits linked to Ayman Joumaa, a drug trafficker and money launderer, linked to Hezbollah, and in April 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department took action against Hezbollah for working as a drug cartel.

Iran was involved in the 911 terrorist attacks.  A U.S. District Judge “ruled that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case.”  Also, post-911, the Iranian regime protected members of al-Qaeda, including the son of Bin Ladin, even as the latter planned and implemented other bombings that wounded or killed civilians.  Because of these and many other actions, the U.S. State Department describes Iran as the “leading sponsor of anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism.”

This position is neither controversial nor partisan.  Jeffery Goldberg noted in The Atlantic, Iran is “is waging war against the United States of America” in Iraq.  Michael Ledeen writing in The Weekly Standard, reaches the same conclusion saying, “(T)here is abundant evidence for Iranian involvement in Iraq, most including their relentless efforts to kill American soldiers.  The evidence consists of first-hand information, not intelligence reports.  Scores of Iranian intelligence officers have been arrested, and some have confessed.  Documentary evidence of intimate Iranian involvement with Iraqi terrorists has been found all over Iraq, notably in Fallujah and Hilla.”

These facts have been widely reported. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq (from 2003-2011), hundreds of American soldiers were killed or wounded byroadside bombs or other weapons that were constructed, and supplied, by Iran to Iraqi rebels.  The Iranians gave these IEDs to both Shiites and Sunnis alike.

Read more at Front Page

 

Iranian Analyst: Without Deal, Obama to Kiss Khamenei’s Hand to Prevent Israel’s Annihilation (see transcript excerpts here)

 

Hizballah Leader Bashes Saudi Arabia Over Syria

Slaying Hizballah commander ratchets up Saudi covert war on Iran and Lebanese proxy

 

HIzballah's Hajj Hassan Hollo al-Laqqis, slain in Beirut

HIzballah’s Hajj Hassan Hollo al-Laqqis, slain in Beirut

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 4, 2013

The gunning down of Hajj Hassan Hollo al-Laqqis, a high-ranking Hizballah commander and close crony of Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, raised the stakes of the clandestine war running between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two weeks after two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

The Hizballah officer was killed by five shots to the head and throat in the underground parking lot of his home in the Hadath neighborhood southwest of Beirut, when he returned home from work after midnight Tuesday, Dec. 3. The Hizballah statement, which said: “Israel is automatically held responsible for the crime,” described al Laqqis as an elite member of the organization’s military wing who for many years served as its technology and arms chief.

A photo published by the Lebanese state news agency shows a man in his mid-40s in military clothing.

DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources report: It seems obvious that the al-Laqqis hit was timed to take place shortly after the Hizballah leader went on the air for an extraordinarily arrogant television interview, during which he made a point of sneering after every reference to the US, Saudi Arabia or Israel. He also appeared to glorify in the big power status conferred on the Islamic Republic (and himself) by the Obama administration after the signing of the Geneva nuclear accord.

Nasrallah praised that accord as signaling “the end of the US monopoly on power” and preventing war in the region. He said Israel couldn’t bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities without a green light from the US. But, he said, America is tired of war. The Saudi war against Iran, he said, has never stopped. He accused a “Saudi-backed group” of being behind the Iranian embassy bombing in Beirut.

The killing of a high-placed Nasrallah insider was intended to illustrate to Hizballah members and the rest of the region that the Hizballah leader’s outburst of hubris was hollow, that his own innermost command elite is deeply penetrated, and that whoever sent the assassins could at any time sow mayhem within the pro-Iranian organization’s ranks.
It also carried a wider message for Tehran and Gen. al-Soleimani: Your own Hizballah holds wide sway over Lebanon and its capital. If you can’t nonetheless keep the symbols of Iranian power in Lebanon and your proxy’s commanders safe, neither can you guarantee the security of Syrian president Bashar Assad in Damascus.

Accusing Israel of the deed and threatening revenge apparently made more sense to Hizballah that accusing Riyadh, which is out of its reach for punishment. Its leaders were even willing to allow people to deduce that Israeli intelligence had penetrated Hizballah’s top ranks and center of government in Beirut deeply enough to pick off its commanders.

There is little doubt in Tehran or Beirut that Riyadh’s hand was behind the slaying of the Hizballah commander, or that Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies are working hand in hand against Tehran in Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

 

Kerry Sees Common Ground With Tehran’s Barbaric Terror Regime

kerryBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

Secretary of State John “I don’t think we’re stupid” Kerry should think again.

Yesterday, a branch of al Qaeda executed atrocious twin suicide bombings against Iran’s embassy in Beirut, killing at least 23 people, with more than 140 wounded. Those of us who have urged that the United States should stay out of the Syrian civil war have contended that, deprived of our lightning rod effect, America’s mortal enemies on both sides of the conflict would turn on and thus degrade each other. That is precisely what has happened: al Qaeda, the terror network that is aligned with its fellow America-hating Sunni supremacists, the Muslim Brotherhood, in the effort to oust the Assad regime, has now effectively declared war on Assad’s main Shiite backers, Iran – the world’s chief state sponsor of terrorism – and its Lebanese jihadist militia, Hezbollah.

So what is our Secretary of State’s response to this unintended foreign policy coup? (For all policy coups during the Obama administration are unintended.) Kerry actually proclaimed that the attack proves there is common ground between the United States and Iran, with whose jihadist rulers he and President Obama are desperate to make a deal, any deal – as John Bolton explains here, with our Michael Ledeen adding context here. Just like mullahs, Kerry twaddled, “the United States knows too well the cost of terrorism directed at our own diplomats around the world.”

Well, yes, we do. But that’s because, for over 30 years, Iran has aided and abetted terrorists in strikes against American diplomats and other American personnel serving overseas – in addition, perhaps, to attacks on Americans here at home.

As I’ve recounted before, the modern Iranian regime was in fact spawned by Iran’s siege against the U.S. embassy, which began on November 4, 1979. Ultimately, the new jihadist regime held 52 American hostage for well over a year – 444 days, to be exact. Eight U.S. servicemen were also killed during the Carter administration’s botched rescue attempt, undertaken after American diplomats, who sounded very much like John Kerry, were mocked by Ayatollah Ruhollah Kohmeini when they tried to flatter the Iranians and negotiate an end to the crisis.

In early 1982, Iran sponsored the creation of Hezbollah. The dividends were immediate: On April 18, 1983, Hezbollah car-bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people (17 of them Americans). Six months later, on October 23, 1983, it attacked the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon with a truck bomb, killing 241 of our military personnel (218 marines, 20 sailors and three soldiers) – also killing 58 French soldiers in a separate attack the same day.

Less than two months later, on December 12, 1983, the U.S. embassy in Kuwait was bombed, killing six and wounding scores of others. The bombers were tied to al-Dawa, a terror organization backed by Iran that was then leading the Shiite resistance against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime (with which Iran was at war). Incidentally, the leader of Dawa’s “jihad office” in Syria at the time was none other than Nouri al-Maliki — now the prime minister of Iraq (you know, the “democrat” who will not relinquish power, supports Iran and Hezbollah, despises Israel, and is now helping re-plunge his country into civil war). Dawa was closely aligned with Hezbollah – indeed, the Kuwait operation was led by Youssef Badreddin, the cousin and brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah chief, Imad Mugniyah.

Read more at PJ Media

Iran & Syria Accuse Israel in Beirut Suicide Bombings

Lebanon-Bombing-AP-414x350By Joseph Klein:

Two back-to-back suicide bombings on November 19th in the vicinity of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Beirut, Lebanon killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 140. Iranian cultural attaché, Ebrahim Ansari, reportedly died from his wounds. An al-Qaida-linked Sunni group known as the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. It threatened more attacks unless Iran withdraws its forces from Syria where Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have been providing military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The Iranian embassy appears to have been the main target of the attacks. One blast occurred near the main entrance of the Iranian embassy. The other went off in front of the Iranian ambassador’s residence.

The United Nations Security Council issued a press statement strongly condemning the terrorist attacks, reaffirming its view “that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”

Iran and Syria were quick to point the finger at Israel as bearing the primary responsibility for the suicide bombings. They both believe that Israel has taken sides with Sunni Arab states against the Shiites in the proxy war raging in Syria and extending into Lebanon. Iran and Hezbollah are Shiite. Assad’s Alawite sect derives from Shiite Islam. The jihadist rebels, along with their state sponsors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf nations, are Sunnis.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah previewed the theme of Israeli complicity with the Sunnis against the Shiites last week: “It is regrettable that (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu is the spokesman for some Arab countries. These countries reject any political solution that would stop the bloodbath and destruction in Syria. They also strongly oppose any accord between Iran and the countries of the world,” alluding to Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s strong opposition to a nuclear deal they see as unduly favorable to Iran.

The suicide bombings in the vicinity of the Iranian embassy fit into this same Israeli-Sunni anti-Shiite conspiracy theory. As explained in a November 19, 2013Foreign Policy article, the Syrian government, Iran and Hezbollah all see Israel’s guiding hand “behind the scenes” while the Gulf petrol-funded Sunni terrorists do the dirty work.

Read more at Front Page

 

Lessons Unlearned from Beirut

paper-tigerFrank Gaffney makes a very important point:

Thirty years ago yesterday, an Iranian-engineered suicide bomber destroyed the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 American servicemen.  Tragically, the United States responded to that act of jihad by retreating, rather than by punishing the perpetrators.  It is no exaggeration to say that the repercussions of that decision haunt us to this day.

Jihadists like Osama bin Laden took away from the experience the conviction that America was unable, or at least unwilling, to fight back against their violence.  Our relegating retribution to the court system was perceived not as admirable restraint.  Rather, it was seen as evidence of weakness – and, worse yet, as submission.  The Koran says the appropriate response is to redouble the effort to make us “feel subdued.”

If President Obama persists in this practice, expect more terrorism, not less.