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12/9/02 - HEZBOLLAH’S WORLDWIDE THREAT - 2002-12-09


The leader of the terrorist group Hezbollah has called for a new campaign of suicide bombings around the world. At a recent rally in Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah [HAH-sahn nahs-RAH-lah] encouraged Palestinians “to take suicide bombings worldwide. Don’t be shy about it,” he said. The speech was broadcast by a Hezbollah-owned television station in Lebanon.

Hezbollah has a long record of terrorism in the Middle East and other places. Its victims have included Israelis, Lebanese, Americans, French, and Argentines, among others. In October 1983, Hezbollah suicide bombers attacked a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital. Two-hundred forty-one Americans and fifty-eight French military personnel were killed. Hezbollah is also thought to have been involved in terrorist attacks on U.S. embassy facilities in Beirut in 1983 and 1984. In 1992, Hezbollah terrorists killed twenty-nine people at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. And Hezbollah is suspected in the 1994 attack on the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires that killed nearly one-hundred people.

The Lebanon-based Hezbollah is an extremist Shia Muslim group dedicated to increasing its power in Lebanon and to opposing Israel and the United States. The U.S. has designated Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. will work to bring those who are responsible for terrorist crimes to justice. Hezbollah leader Nasrallah has called for the destruction of Israel and criticized Arab leaders who call for a peaceful settlement between Palestinians and Israelis. Hezbollah is closely allied with Iran. It receives substantial financial and military aid from Iran and logistical support from Syria.

Another Hezbollah leader is Imad Fayez Mugniyah [im-AHD FAH-yez MOOG-nee-yah]. He is wanted by U.S. authorities for terrorist acts that include the 1985 hijacking of a Trans World Airlines jet, in which an American was murdered. He is believed to be hiding in Lebanon or Iran. The U.S. has offered a reward of up to five million dollars for information leading to his arrest.

The United States condemns Hezbollah's exhortation to violence and terror. So should the rest of the world. As President George W. Bush has said, countries “must unite in opposing all terrorists. . . . In this world, there are good causes and bad causes, and we may disagree on where the line is drawn. Yet, there is no such thing as a good terrorist. No national aspiration, no remembered wrong,” said President Bush, “can ever justify the deliberate murder of the innocent. Any government that rejects this principle, trying to pick and choose its terrorist friends, will know the consequences.”

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