Hezbollah: A religious terrorist organisationIntroductionHezbollah, which literally means "party of God", is a Lebanon-based Shi'a Islamic political and paramilitary organisation. Many countries such as the United States, Israel, Canada, and the Netherlands consider the group is a terrorist organisation. On the other hand, many countries consider a part of the organisation supporting terrorist activities. For instance, the United Kingdom has listed the military wing of Hezbollah as a proscribed terrorist organisation and Australia deems a part of the organisation’s military structure being involved in spreading terrorism. However, the social aspect of the organisation can not be ignored, as Hezbollah provides significant assistance for operating schools, hospitals, and agricultural services for Shiites living in Lebanon.
Furthermore, many Arab countries and Muslims regard Hezbollah as a legitimate resistance movement (Goldberg 2002). The first known military activity Hezbollah undertook was in 1982, in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon – also known as Operation Peace for Galilee – during the Lebanese civil war. The organisation formulated a manifesto in 1985 which stated the three main goals of Hezbollah, namely, to put “an end to any colonialist entity" in Lebanon, punishing the Phalangists for their crimes, and establishing an Islamic regime in Lebanon.
The organisation also called for the destruction of Israel, which Hezbollah refer to as a "Zionist entity. .. built on lands wrested from their owners. ” (Goldberg 2002). Hezbollah has often been synonymous with terror attacks such as kidnapping and suicide bombings. Between 1982 and 1986, the organisation has been accused of 36 suicide attacks – killing 659 people – directed against American, French and Israelis forces in Lebanon. Some of the prominent attacks include a suicide bombing attack killing 241 US marines in Beirut in 1983; attack on the U. S.
Embassy in April 1983; and hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985. The organisation’s name has often been dragged in attacks conducted outside Lebanon. For instance, in 1992, Hezbollah has been accused of attacking the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, and in 1994, for bombing a Jewish cultural in Argentina. However, the organisation had refused any links with the above mentioned attacks (Hajjar 2002). The organisation along with Amal is a major political party in Lebanon representing the Shiite Muslims.
Hezbollah holds 14 of the 128 seats in the Parliament of Lebanon and is also a member of the Resistance and Development Bloc. During the 2005 general election, the organisation won 10.9 per cent of parliamentary seats, and the Resistance and Development Bloc won all 23 seats in Southern Lebanon, and a total of 27.3 per cent of parliamentary seats nationwide. During the municipal elections, the group won 21 per cent of the municipalities. As on July 11, 2008 Hezbollah has one minister and controls eleven of thirty seats in the cabinet. Hezbollah: The ambiguity Different countries have varied opinion about Hezbollah’s legitimacy.
While most consider Hezbollah as a legitimate political entity, many foresee it as a terrorist group. For instance, during the Israeli infiltration in South Lebanon, most of the Arab countries and Muslims world over regarded Hezbollah as a legitimate resistance movement. Many consider the violent mechanism adopted by Hezbollah as act of terror, while some deem it as a part of the resistance movement to defend its country. The question whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation or not, solely depends on the perspective and interest of the individual.
A Lebanese would view Hezbollah as a resistant movement that is defending the integrity of his country by preventing foreign invasion and cultural degeneration. However, for the other parties, namely the Israelis, Hezbollah would remain a terror group as its violent defence mechanism is paralysing their army and taking away their perceived legitimate share of Lebanon (Saouli 2003).